The Philadelphia Union didn’t have to wait long to find their new star striker and the newest member of Jim Curtin’s squad already feels at home, even without kicking a ball yet for his new club.
Mikael Uhre arrived in Chester this week, putting pen to paper on a three-year Designated Player contract with the Union, ending the club’s chase for the Danish forward. Uhre had been linked with a move to MLS over the past two weeks and made that move permanent on Thursday, signing with the Union and taking the next step of his career.
A Danish international with ample experience in Europe, Uhre fills the void left by Kacper Przybylko’s depature to Chicago, and is ready to go for one of the Eastern Conference’s expected contenders.
“We had a call with Mikael about the soccer and the fit and it was really casual and comfortable,” Curtin said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. “He asked very intelligent questions and one thing that came up was the style and system that we play. His skill set will fit the club, fit the team and certainly fit the city of Philadelphia.
“He’s a player that works tirelessly on the field,” Curtin added. “His movement in the box is very good and his ability to finish plays off and get goals is something that we are really excited about. Incredibly happy that he chose Philadelphia while he was being chased by several big clubs in Europe and beyond; it speaks to the growth of our club that a player of his quality would choose us.”
Uhre is not only tall and physical, but a hardworker in and around the box, scoring for fun and being a constant threat in the final third. The 27-year-old is coming off a sensational campaign with Danish first division side Brondby, winning the league’s Golden Boot by scoring 21 goals in 34 league appearances.
That form carried over to this current season, where he scored 11 goals in 16 appearances, and also helped Brondby reach the UEFA Europa League group stage. Uhre’s impressive spell with Brondby will surely have Union fans excited and has the striker confident in his abilities moving to a new country and league.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself to prove it’s not a dream because everything started to go my way,” Uhre said. “Even though I had a lot of success I tend to focus too much on the small details of how I can improve even more. I can go out of a game having scored two and only thing about the third I missed. I believe that no matter how good you are, you can always improve and that has been my motto through it all.
“I’m getting to the age now where pressure is not as big in my head,” Uhre added. “It can be in the surroundings but I don’t take it in that much. I try to focus on myself and I don’t compare myself to anyone because at the of the day you can only compare yourself to yourself. You can only improve yourself. Of course there will be some pressure but I love pressure. There was pressure at Brøndby IF and I loved it here so it just makes me want to be even better.”
After playing his entire professional career to date in his native Denmark, Uhre didn’t have to do too much research on MLS ahead of his signing with the Union. The league not only continues to grow as a whole, but the Union has continued to take major steps forward as a franchise, advancing further in the MLS Cup Playoffs than ever before in 2021 and also excelling in their debut in the Concacaf Champions League.
Uhre credited a former Brondby teammate and former MLS MVP finalist for helping him feel more comfortable about committing his immediate future to the Union and backs himself to continue improving as a pro player in 2022 and beyond.
“I called my friend [Nashville SC attacking midfielder] Hany Mukhtar,” Uhre said. “He said that the league is really developing and that it would be a really good fit for me as a football player. That really helped me because I thought it was a great challenge with a league that will develop me and that is full of really great players. It was the step in my career and I think can take some good ones here in Philadelphia.”
Uhre will now join his Union teammates for the continuation of preseason camp in Chester before departing to Clearwater, Florida on Feb. 1. The Union kicks off its competitive preseason schedule on Feb. 3 vs. FC Cincinnati before follow-up matches against CF Montreal (Feb. 8) and Nashville SC (Feb. 18).