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February 19, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Michael Azira: ‘If I get a chance, I will do what I can for the team.’

I got a chance to interview Sounders FC trialist Michael Azira the other day. The 26-year-0ld Ugandan has played the past two seasons with the Charleston Battery, though he did come to Seattle to train with the Sounders last year. Coach Sigi Schmid talked about Azira’s chances of making the team here.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

*     *     *

(How has camp gone so far for you?) “I think it’s really amazing. It’s a good experience. The guys are really nice. I truly appreciate the opportunity to come here.”

(What will this trip to Charleston by like for you?) “I think it’ll be good. We had a great season in Charleston, so going back there, I don’t know how they’re going to decide which side I’m going to play on. (laughs) … But it’s going to be a good experience to go back and play in that tournament.”

(Do players look at guys like Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle and Alex Caskey as examples, having come through Charleston and established themselves in MLS?) “Yeah. It always comes down to the effort you put in. The club has a good connection with Seattle, and the Sounders always send down new players. Those players who have made it, it’s really awesome. Ozzie, Caskey and Neagle, they did a great job in Charleston and they’re doing a great job here, too. It’s something to look up to … but it always comes down to your work and what you put in. I think it’s a good thing just to get a chance to come from Charleston to here. It’s really nice.”

(How is Osvaldo Alonso viewed in Charleston and what will his return be like?) “I think it’s going to be amazing. People love him there so much. He did great things for them and what he did down there will never go away. They’re excited to see him again.”

(We’ve seen you play multiple positions in camp. Does that make things more difficult or are you OK with moving from center mid to right back when needed?) “It’s not that hard, because you have to be flexible. … You never know where you’re going. If you go to a different club, the coach might see something different in you than other coaches. So if he says, ‘Michael, play right back,’ I don’t say no. I just go out there and do my best and try to play for the team. I have no problem with it.”

(What is the feeling in camp as the team is trying to grow together but individual players are fighting for spots on the team?) “The first thing I would say about this group is they’re really great guys. They are so welcoming and caring about each other. They try to play for each other. I think that’s a great thing for new players like us who are trying to get a spot or trying to get to be part of the team. They try to welcome you as much as they can — the experienced players and the new players. They’re really great in terms of welcoming you so you feel comfortable with the guys. We’re doing a good job of coming together as a group.”

(Along with playing, I’ve heard you’re also a soccer coach. Why is that something you’ve wanted to do while also pursuing your own goals?) “It’s always good to be an example to the little ones, because someone helped you somewhere. It’s always good for you to help someone else. It’s good to be a good example for the kids, so I don’t mind, even it’s for free or for money. I love to coach. It’s a good experience and there is a lot to learn. I’m still learning and it’s been a good experience with all the (Sounders) coaches. They help me out a lot and they’ve been really good to me. I try to learn, and whatever I get, I can use to teach the kids, as well.”

(Obviously all focus is on winning a spot here, but if it doesn’t work out, are you going to focus on making an MLS team or if Charleston also still an option for you?) “If there is an opportunity to go to MLS, I will take it. But still, if I don’t make it, Charleston is always there for me. I’ll do my best to see if I can make it up here, but it’s a win-win situation, so there is nothing to worry about. If I get a chance, I will do what I can for the team and what coach wants me to do, just enjoy the experience and learn as much as I can from the guys and see what I can do to improve my game.”

| More in Sounders FC, Stop and chats


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