A few observations on the Union ahead of their first-ever game against Los Angeles FC on Saturday (8 p.m., PHL17):
• Borek Dockal's player-of-the-week-winning performance against Vancouver was a rare feat, and not just because it was only the seventh time ever that a Union player won the award. The Czech playmaker received a perfect 10.00 rating from the analysts at WhoScored.com.
It's the first time since WhoScored started tracking MLS data in 2013 that any Union player drew a perfect score. League-wide, it's the 43rd time out of just under 55,000 recorded scores.
• Here's an example of why C.J. Sapong can be so frustrating to watch: Six minutes into last weekend's win over Vancouver, he had stationed himself at the edge of the six-yard box as Ilsinho received the ball from Keegan Rosenberry. Ilsinho turned to shoot, and ended up misfiring the ball to just in front of Sapong. Instead of reaching a leg out to shoot, Sapong moved to get out of the way of the ball.
If Sapong thought he was offside, he clearly wasn't. If he thought he was trying to avoid stealing someone else's goal, with all due respect, put the ball in the net and buy your teammate a meal later.
• Alejandro Bedoya can play well in more than one tactical style. He showed it against Vancouver when Warren Creavalle replaced the suspended Haris Medunjanin. When Medunjanin plays, Bedoya does a lot of defensive work so the Bosnian can dictate the tempo. Creavalle is a more traditional defensive midfielder whose main job is to break up opponents' plays. Bedoya thus became involved in the attack.
Compare Bedoya's touch map against Vancouver (left) to his touch map in the Open Cup win over the Red Bulls (right), the last game he played with Medunjanin:
• Curtin will coach against his old coach, Bob Bradley, for the first time on Saturday. Curtin's playing career started with Bradley's Chicago Fire in 2001 and 2002.
"It will feel strange," Curtin said. "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."
• The Union are fortunate to be facing LAFC when their star playmaker Carlos Vela is at the World Cup with Mexico. Vela has seven goals and five assists this season, and according to WhoScored is the seventh-best chance creator in MLS with 2.7 per game. Dockal ranks No. 6 with 2.6 per game.
• When you watch the game, take a moment to admire LAFC's new Banc of California Stadium. It's across the street from the L.A. Coliseum, and a short walk from one of the city's light rail lines.
Yes, the soccer stadium in Los Angeles has better public transit access than the one near Philadelphia. And yes, that matters to many soccer fans here who find going to Union games to be too much of a hassle to be worth the effort.
Union at Los Angeles FC
Saturday, 8 p.m. at Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles
Union's record: 6-7-3, 21 points (6th in the East); 1-5-1 on the road
LAFC's record: 8-4-3, 27 poins (3rd in the West); 3-0-3 at home
Series history: First meeting
Los Angeles players to watch
M Benny Feilhaber: It's hard to believe that it's been 11 years since he scored one of the best U.S. national team goals to win the 2007 Gold Cup final. Bob Bradley was his coach then, and is again now. With Carlos Vela still at the World Cup, Feilhaber gets to be Bradley's chief playmaker again.
D Laurent Ciman: The savvy Belgian centerback was the last cut from his country's World Cup team. It surely hurt, but he didn't let it affect his play. Just three minutes into his first game back, he smashed in a long-range free kick goal.