Mikael Uhre doesn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve in the same way that many popular Philly sports stars do, or in the way that teammates like Alejandro Bedoya and José Andrés Martínez do.
But he’s always honest, in good times and bad. And he was again on Sunday after scoring his first Union goal, freeing himself of the burden of a six-game drought (he’s also missed three games) to start his time in Philadelphia.
“Of course it’s a relief to score my first goal — it’s something that I’ve been working really hard on every day, and it was really nice to see it finally going in,” Uhre said after his tally helped the Union earn a 1-1 tie at Nashville SC.
“The chemistry between Julián [Carranza], Dániel [Gazdag] and myself right now is really building,” added Uhre, a veteran of Denmark’s first-tier league who signed with the Union in January. “It was a perfect ball from Dániel for me to just run in through, and then I was open on goal.”
When a player in any sport is in a rut, it’s tempting to try to change up the routine. But Uhre stuck to his, believing that he was doing the right things.
“It’s just been trying to do more of the same,” he said. “After some of the other games I’ve been frustrated that the ball didn’t hit the net, but the first thing to score goals is to get to the chances. So I was happy that I could keep getting chances [Sunday], and then it finally hit the net.”
Union manager Jim Curtin believed that too, having seen Uhre score plenty of times in practice and come close in games.
“He’s given us a dynamic that we didn’t have last season, where if you think of the amount of times he’s gotten in behind the back line, in a very short sample size of games, it’s up over double digits already, which is really encouraging,” Curtin said. “I think the floodgates will open now for Mikael.”
Uhre got in behind the back line again Sunday, sprinting between Walker Zimmerman and Jack Maher to latch on to Gazdag’s chip over Nashville’s defense.
“When I saw that Dániel had the open view of the field and the backline was pretty high, I knew what I had to do — and luckily, he also knew where to place the ball,” Uhre said.
But the hardest part was still to come, as Uhre went one-on-one with Zimmerman for the ball. Uhre won the duel with a nifty cutback to his right and behind the U.S. national team stalwart.
“You can see [Uhre] can separate, had some composure to stop and slow down, and maybe take a deep breath and pause, and then just place it in the goal,” Curtin said.
Uhre knew what he was in for with Zimmerman, Nashville’s captain.
“That’s what you play for as a player, to play against the best players in the league,” Uhre said. “It’s a pleasure to play against good players, because that’s also something that develops yourself.”
His interactions with Nashville’s other star, Hany Mukhtar, were more mutually pleasant. The former Brøndby teammates talked at length before the game, and swapped jerseys on the field afterward.
“It was lovely to see him again — he’s a really good guy,” Uhre said. “He also said that he’s been, obviously, following Brøndby, and that he’s seen how I developed as a player, and he thinks I can do great things in the league. It was a nice pat on the shoulder from him.”