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Philadelphia Union forward depth already being tested ahead of season opener

Julian Carranza is the only forward available for Friday’s preseason match against Nashville SC

Morgan Tencza

After being forced to play with one striker for much of the final stretch of the season and playoffs, the Philadelphia Union went out shopping and brought in two new strikers in Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza while trading Kacper Przybylko to the Chicago Fire.

The moves — a reported $2.8 million for Uhre and a potentially savvy season long long of Carranza from Inter Miami in exchange for a draft pick — were meant to shore up a front line that failed to find the back of the net in the postseason.

But 9 days away from the season opener against Minnesota United in Chester, the question of forward depth has again surfaced.

Uhre still hasn’t gotten his visa and head coach Jim Curtin said Wednesday that it looks less likely he’ll be available for the opener. Sergio Santos, meanwhile, is out with an injury he picked up in training earlier this week and Cory Burke is out of the country to finalize a green card process. If the news about Burke sounds familiar he was trying to process a green card in 2019 when he ended up losing his visa and wasn’t able to return to the team over a year later.

“(Sergio Santos) came in a couple of weeks late,” Curtin said Wednesday. “He’s worked really hard, formed a really good partnership and relationship with (Julian) Carranza, but then picked up an injury a couple days ago. All the tests came back, it’s just a contusion, but he hasn’t trained the past couple days.”

Carranza, who has impressed in preseason, will likely get time as a solo striker against Nashville SC on Friday but Bajung Darboe and Nelson Pierre from Union II will also probably see the field as they have in previous preseason matches this month.

It isn’t necessarily time to panic right now but the injury history of Santos continues to be a concern. He’s missed time in each of his now four preseasons since joining the club ahead of the 2019 season and has had injuries from time to time during the season that have left the front line depleted and derailed some purple patches of form for the Brazilian.

It’s possible even with Uhre still waiting to join the team that Curtin still has all three of his other forwards available.

“We’ll be in a situation where we’ll find a way to get the best personnel out there and try to get a win against Nashville,” Curtin said. “And then we’ll see; hopefully (Sergio) can heal up and be available for the next game.”

The match kicks off at noon in Clearwater and does not appear to be slated for live streaming.