The month of August was always going to be a difficult one for Sounders FC. With a busy schedule of eight competitive fixtures for the Rave Green – including three rivalry matches and a grueling stretch of five games in 15 days – the month has naturally seen mixed results on the pitch.
Although the Sounders are currently amidst a rough stretch in MLS play, their busy summer has been a constructive time period for some of the players that aren’t consistently earning minutes in regular-season games. Across all competitions, 24 different players have represented the Rave Green during August. In each of its two midweek 2015-2016 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League matches, Seattle made at least eight changes to the lineup that had taken the pitch in MLS action over the weekend.
For young Sounders such as Homegrown Player Aaron Kovar, the SCCL has given them a chance to exhibit their skills in important games. Their next opportunity could come in the club’s third Group Stage match on Wednesday, when the Rave Green meet CD Olimpia at Estadio Nacional in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
“It’s not the most ideal timing, but it is what it is,” Kovar said. “We have a really deep squad. I think that’s something that this team has really prided itself on. Not just one to 18, but having almost a second lineup full of quality players. It’s a good opportunity for all of us to show that.”
Kovar has started in both of the first two SCCL games, playing on the left wing as Seattle earned a road draw against Vancouver Whitecaps FC and a home victory over Olimpia.
The second-year midfielder was a standout performer in last week’s clash with Olimpia. He set up both of Sounders FC’s goals – The first was a result of his long throw-in, and Dylan Remick drew a penalty on a pass from Kovar to set up the second. Kovar also came close to scoring a goal of his own on several occasions, hitting the woodwork twice and forcing the Olimpia keeper into a fingertip save. The performance earned him a spot in the starting XI at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
“I thought he had a good game when we played against Olimpia, so we gave him some minutes,” Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “We needed to rest [Lamar] Neagle a little bit against Salt Lake, so we gave Kovar some minutes. I thought early on, he did well. He’s still learning, still growing. But he’s becoming a lot more consistent. His passing is becoming better.”
Kovar knows he will need to keep improving, both as a distributor and in taking his chances, in order to continue earning playing time on Schmid’s squad.
“For me, I think it’s just going to be about what kind of product I can produce,” he said. “I need to get dangerous balls in the box, try to pick people out and get shots on target. That’s what’s going to keep me on the field…I’ve just got to keep working hard and try to make the most of it.”
Kovar and the Sounders are already en route to Honduras, where they will arrive on Tuesday after spending Monday night in Houston. As stated by Schmid on Monday, midfielder Marco Pappa is among the group that’s making the trip for Wednesday’s match.