USA Today Sports

With injuries mounting, Micheal Azira earns first start

SEATTLE, Wash. – Last week, Micheal Azira made his MLS debut as a late-match substitute in Sounders FC’s 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact. With injuries and suspensions in Seattle’s midfield, Azira now moves into a starting role as Sounders FC hosts the Columbus Crew for the last home match until April 26.

Azira played the last two seasons with the Charleston Battery in USL Pro, earning second-team All-League honors last year. After an impressive preseason and a workmanlike effort against the Impact, Azira now will slot into the midfield of Seattle’s 4-3-3 formation along with Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda.

The defensive group remains the same as it has been for Sounders FC’s first three matches, with Stefan Frei at goalkeeper and a back four of DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Djimi Traore and Dylan Remick from right-to-left. Schmid also opted for the same forward trio, with Obafemi Martins flanked by Lamar Neagle and Kenny Cooper.

Against the Impact, Neagle and Martins scored off of assists from Pineda and Cooper, respectively.

Sounders FC XI: Frei; Yedlin, Marshall, Traore, Remick; Azira, Alonso, Pineda; Cooper, Martins, Neagle.