Philadelphia Union ready for CF Montreal's depth, Mikael Uhre to make debut

The Philadelphia Union had their quietest week of 2022 ahead of their Saturday match with CF Montreal.

That is a very good thing for a club that dealt with injuries and visa issues ahead of the Major League Soccer campaign.

Jim Curtin's side had the full week to focus on correcting mistakes from the season-opening draw with Minnesota United and to integrate Mikael Uhre into the squad.

Uhre is expected to make his debut in some capacity on Saturday. Pregame coverage starts at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports The Gambler with Jon Jansen and Joe Tansey. The match call follows at 4 p.m. ET. Postgame coverage with Jansen, Tansey and Kevin Kinkead comes on immediately after the final whistle.

"(Uhre) will be ready. No question about it," Curtin said on Thursday. "He's had a good week of training with the group. He is still getting used to his teammates, but he has shown really well in training. He has some speed to stretch the defense. He's shown really good movement in the box and he's finished off some plays and scored a lot of goals this week."

"(Uhre) has minimal training sessions with the group, but his body has responded well," Curtin said. "I think it's safe to say he will play a role in this weekend's match."

While the Union are at full strength up top, CF Montreal will not be. Romell Quioto was handed a red card in the season-opening loss to Orlando City. Quioto scored eight league goals in each of the last two seasons for the Quebec-based side.

Quioto's absence could open the door for MLS veteran Kei Kamara to start inside the Olympic Stadium. Kamara has 268 career regular-season goals in MLS.

"Initially when you see the red card happen, it's a little bit of a break," Curtin said. "Quioto is a real weapon for them, a very dangerous attacker in our league and has been for a lot of years. He won't be part of it, but then you look quickly down the depth chart and you see Kei Kamara, a guy who has scored everywhere he's been in this league. They have quality in their roster where they can hurt you."

Montreal will still have Djordje Mihailovic, a United States men's national team candidate, working in the final third and he could be dangerous any time he touches the ball.

"Mihailovic is certainly one of the key guys for them, whether it is scoring or setting up goals," Curtin said. "What they do well with (Joaquin) Torres and Mihailovic when those two are on the field, they can come inside and get width from their wing backs. When they come underneath, they are comfortable receiving the ball in tight spaces. Mihailovic can turn and get out of things."

"We have to have an idea where (Mihailovic) is at all times," Curtin said. "As a team, they are really organized and tough to break down. If you allow (Victor) Wanyama to pick his head up and play entry balls into Mihailovic and entry balls into Torres and you let those guys turn, they are going to give you real problems. We have to be organized and take away their strengths as best as we can."

Philadelphia likely will not make many alterations to the starting XI for Saturday's match. The lone change could be Uhre slotting next to Julian Carranza at forward in the 4-4-2 formation, but Uhre might come off the bench. Cory Burke would likely earn his second straight start in the case.

Montreal has to find the balance of playing for points in its home opener and saving energy for the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals. Montreal travels to Mexico to play Cruz Azul on Wednesday in the first of two legs.

The four MLS teams left in the CCL went 0-3-1 during opening weekend. The Union were in the same situation in 2021 and needed four league games to get their first MLS win.

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