US Open Cup overlay - Aaron Kovar - Seattle Sounders - yelling

TUKWILA, Wash. – Seattle Sounders midfielder Aaron Kovar hasn’t played much over the course of the past year, first due to a broken collarbone he sustained in U.S. Open Cup play last season and then getting sidelined by a groin injury after that.  

But after the long layoff, the 23-year-old Homegrown product appears to be working his way back into the fold. Kovar subbed on for his first MLS appearance of the season and helped facilitate the game-winning goal in the Sounders’ 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo on June 4, before scoring Seattle’s first goal in the third minute of their 2-1 fourth-round Open Cup triumph over the Portland Timbers at Starfire Sports Complex on Tuesday.

“It feels good,” Kovar told reporters following Tuesday’s match. “That was my first competitive start in a while so it was good to get back on. I felt pretty good [physically] and it’s always good to get on the scoresheet.”

Kovar’s early heroics paid dividends for the Sounders in Open Cup play on Tuesday but his play of late could also have implications as the club turns its focus back to MLS play, where compiling as much depth as possible is always pivotal.

Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said he was pleased with the combination of Kovar and left back Nouhou (who provided the cross on Tuesday’s goal) although he did add that there are still things he wants to see Kovar work on as he continues to work his way back in to the squad’s rotation.

“He did well,” Schmetzer said. “We almost forget that he’s still kind of a young guy. I don’t know how many MLS games he has under his belt and he still needs a little bit of that maturity and the thought process.

“I felt that after he scored he puffed his chest out which is great, you want confident players,” Schmetzer added. “But then he was trying a few flicks and things and he’s got to make sure he sticks with the game plan and sticks with what got him where he is. But overall he was very, very good. His set pieces were very good.”

How much Kovar features in MLS play for the rest of the season remains to be seen, but it seems like a foregone conclusion that he’ll remain a factor for Seattle in the Open Cup as the Sounders look to make a run at the franchise’s fifth USOC title.

“We’ve got a good group, so it would be fun to make a run,” he said. “This club’s had a lot of success in this tournament and I’ve won it one year, so that was a pretty cool experience. It would be fun to do it again.”