Mikael Uhre, Julian Carranza to start together for Philadelphia Union

The striker partnership Philadelphia Union fans have waited to see will appear for the first time together in the starting lineup on Saturday night.

Offseason acquisitions Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza were confirmed as the starters up top for the Eastern Conference clash with the Columbus Crew by head coach Jim Curtin on Thursday.

"You're going to see it this game," Curtin said. "It's time."

The DraftKings Pregame Show begins at 5:30 p.m. ET with Jon Jansen and Joe Tansey. The game call can be heard at 6 p.m. ET. The Union Postgame Show follows directly after the final whistle.

Uhre and Carranza have been on the field in different instances throughout the first five games of the Major League Soccer season.

Uhre debuted as a substitute against CF Montreal on March 5. Three minutes after he came on, Carranza was sent off for a second yellow card.

Carranza returned to the pitch two weeks later, but Uhre was held back by a slight knock he picked up in training after the Montreal game.

Uhre returned for his home debut in last Saturday's win over Charlotte FC. He was declared fit to start by Curtin during his midweek press conference.

The Danish forward joins Carranza and Daniel Gazdag in an attacking trio that could wreak havoc on many opponents.

Carranza and Gazdag have already formed a strong partnership in their four games on the field together.

"They are both guys that like to combine," Curtin said. "They aren't guys that are going to get on the ball and do sixteen stepovers and blow by you, like Ilsinho used to with the first step that just explodes by guys. They are a little bit more. They set up their defenders. Daniel will play a ball into Julian. Daniel will change speeds and get it back. Little one-twos, combinations. They think about the game and think a pass or two ahead. I think they have a good understanding of each other and they both are really good technical soccer players."

Gazdag leads the team in goals with four and Carranza opened his Union scoring account with the first goal against Charlotte.

Gazdag also sits in the team lead in shots on target with seven. He could keep up that high total even with Uhre in the lineup because of his advances into the final third.

The Union's defense comes into Saturday with three consecutive clean sheets. The unit faces its toughest test yet against Darlington Nagbe, Lucas Zelarayan and Co.

Philadelphia's key on defense will be to limit the times Nagbe plays the ball forward. The American midfielder will be on the ball, but the Union must limit his movement into the final third.

"Nagbe is a guy that you're not going to win the ball off," Curtin said. "The data and percentages will show that. Can you make him play square and backward as much as possible? If you go tight to him, he has a good way of using his body and shifting and getting out of a tight spot and then he goes by you that starts the domino effect where the next guy has to release, he's good at playing again and combining. He's a guy that if you're overaggressive with him, he makes you look silly. There are few times over the course of 90 minutes you're going to steal the ball from him. Let's do a good job of not letting him go by us."

Nagbe completed 96.3 percent of his passes through five games. He completed 92 passes in last week's 1-0 loss to Nashville SC. Fifteen of his 94 passes were made under pressure, per FBRef.

The Union need to contain Nagbe's advances in order to keep Zelarayan off the ball. Zelarayan is one of the most dynamic No. 10s in MLS. He attempted 17 shots in five games, with five of them going on target.

Zelarayan is most dangerous on free-kick opportunities. The Union have not conceded a goal from outside the box in over 4,000 minutes. He already has one free-kick goal from outside the box this season.

If the Union contain both midfield stars, they should come away with three points, but it will not be an easy task against a team that leads the East in goals scored and expected goals.

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