Union-Los Angeles FC Preview

After experiencing the first slump of its inaugural season, Los Angeles FC is heating up again without its best player as a new scoring option emerges.

LAFC looks to win its third straight match and remain unbeaten at Banc of California Stadium, where it faces the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night.

Heading into the weekend, LAFC (8-4-3) is in third place in the Western Conference, five points behind first-place Sporting Kansas City. LAFC has picked up 12 of a possible 18 points at home thanks to a 3-0-3 record.

The club posted its second straight victory after a four-game winless skid with a 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew last Saturday. Defender Laurent Ciman scored his third goal of the season — all on free kicks — in the fourth minute and Adama Diamonde capped the scoring in the eighth minute.

Diamonde, a Norwegian striker, has four goals in three games to provide a scoring punch while Carlos Vela (seven goals, five assists) is playing for Mexico at the World Cup.

“He’s a big, strong dude, obviously has a nose for the goal, and he gives us something extra up there with his hold-up ability and his speed and his strength,” LAFC midfielder Benny Feilhaber told the league’s official website. “He gives us another aspect of the game that helps is a lot in keeping possession and creating chances.”

And Diamonde says he can be better.

“I would say (I need better) sharpness with the ball. … It’s just the small details (that need to come),” he said.

Philadelphia (6-7-3) holds the final playoff spot in Eastern Conference, but things could shake out this weekend. The Chicago Fire are one point behind Philadelphia, Orlando City SC trails by two points and the Montreal Impact are three back.

The Union are 1-5-1 on the road, including four shutout losses.

Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin will face LAFC’s Bob Bradley for the first time. Curtin played for Bradley in 2000 and 2001 with the Chicago Fire.

“It will feel strange,” Curtin told philly.com. “The environment that he created in Chicago, I owe a lot of my coaching career (to). … A guy that I look up to a great deal, not only for on-the-field things I learned there, but also off the field, what it means to be a leader of men.”

Philadelphia looks to build off a 4-0 home win over the Vancouver Whitecaps last Saturday. Borek Dockal scored twice for his first multi-goal game in MLS and Ilsinho and Fafa Picault scored on penalty kicks.

Dockal, a Czech native, leads the club with five goals, including three game-winners, and has six assists. Fellow midfielder Ilsinho has four goals.