CHESTER, PA --- Mikael Uhre, Julian Carranza and Daniel Gazdag combined for 49 goals and 25 assists in the 2022 Major League Soccer regular season.
Each member of the Philadelphia Union attacking trio could be more than excited to talk about their incredible individual achievements, but that is not in their DNA.
Uhre, Carranza and Gazdag were all quick to point out how fun it is to play with each other and the team success that has come with their fantastic seasons in the final third.
“There’s definitely no competition (between us)," Uhre said. "It’s all about the team and how the team performs. I think that’s been a quality of the front three in these games this year. We want the best for each other and we give it to the guy with the best chance to score instead of maybe shooting from a tight angle. We always try to look for each other and that’s also what’s building the chemistry."
“I just love playing with these guys," Gazdag said. "We are hungry to score and be successful as individuals and as a team as well. It’s just really fun."
Gazdag and Carranza laid the foundation for the attacking unit in the early months of the season while Uhre was working back to full fitness. Uhre did not arrive until late in preseason and he dealt with a knock for the opening part of the campaign.
Gazdag produced a four-game scoring streak in March and April. Carranza had three goals to his name through April.
“The beginning with Danny it was easy to understand each other," Carranza said. "We’re playing with each other so much in training too. When Mikael got on the field, it was easier to understand our runs, our movements and Danny coming in behind us. With time, training and time outside the field too, I think we got a good relationship and we showed it on the field."
Uhre could see the beginning of a flourishing partnership, even while he was working back to full game fitness. The Danish forward gained his first start on April 9, but then played one game between May 1 and June 18.
“I was really excited even just watching them in training," Uhre said. "We had a few trainings in the beginning and I think you could see it even early on that this was going to be something really nice. We understand each other really well between the runs I make and the runs Julian makes. And then we have the guy behind to spray out the passes and also score all the goals. He’s doing it all. It’s been incredible."
Philadelphia's top scorers found their rhythm over a tremendous summer stretch that began with a 7-0 walloping of D.C. United on July 8.
Carranza and Uhre scored multiple goals in that contest. Each of the three attackers scored multiple goals twice in a game from July 8 on.
The Union bagged four or more goals in a game eight times in the final four months of the regular season. The goal was to always score more, no matter who found the back of the net.
“I don’t think we realized we were scoring so many goals," Carranza said. "When we score one, we want another and then the third one and it just goes like that. We always want more. It doesn’t matter who scores. It’s all for the team. We’re hungry for goals and to put the team in the best level possible."
Gazdag took the lead in the goals and assists columns. The Hungarian finished with 22 goals, one shy of the Golden Boot. He was left off the list of Most Valuable Player finalists, and although that omission hurt, he has put that behind him.
“I was upset when I saw the list for one or two days, but now I’m moved on and it’s all about the team and we want to be in MLS Cup now," Gazdag said.
The Union benefited from that stretch by earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They will have home field for the next two rounds, and potentially for MLS Cup if Los Angeles FC loses at any point.
Philadelphia was one step away from MLS Cup last season before a COVID-19 outbreak hit the team and forced Jim Curtin to use a makeshift squad against New York City FC.
“Last year we were a little bit unlucky before the conference final," Gazdag said. "Everyone was upset and disappointed after the game. I felt that we could do more. This season I think we have a better team than last year. We have a good chance to be right where we want."
Uhre and Carranza were not with the club last season, but they sense the disappointment that came with last season's elimination in the Eastern Conference Final. The goal for them is to now take the Union over that hump and into the title match.
“You can feel it," Uhre said. "Obviously we weren’t here so it’s not imprinted in us in the same way. The way guys talk about it and the feeling and the hunger to go even further this year, you can feel it all around. It’s something that lingers."