Tactical Talk: Continuing to cram square pegs in round holes not working for Chivas USA

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Or how personnel and coaching just aren't matching up right now.


There are no other words needed to describe the feeling of Chivas USA's fans and the current team's status after another bad performance that allowed Philadelphia Union to earn three deserved points following a 0-3 win at StubHub Center on Saturday. Wilmer Cabrera's side once again wasted the opportunity to set the tone of this season, suffering another home loss. The Union dominated both defensively and offensively to send the Rojiblancos back to the bottom of their conference with a shameful record of 2-7-4.

CUSA remained victims of a tactical misperception: the high line coach Wilmer Cabrera is deploying this term doesn't work as it does not suit some of the backline players. The team should be more balanced, but the only alternative tactics the manager has shown us is an ultra-defensive formation in which he asks the team to sit deep and defend despite the fact he lines up a lot of offensive-oriented players. Two systems, neither of which appears to work for the players on the team.

So, there are two ways to fix it: or Cabrera changes his four-man front back introducing more speedy defenders, especially at center back, and that seems unlikely to happen as team roster lacks of this kind of men. The other option is that he continues to play counter-attacking soccer, sacrificing some attacking players.

The question is: can the Goats sustain a starting XI featuring Martin Rivero, Marco Delgado, Carlos Alvarez and Leandro Barrera all together and nevertheless playing Cabrera's way? Eriq Zavaleta and Tony Lochhead suffered with the latter being a left-back turned center back for this occasion as Chivas USA were without center backs Carlos Bocanegra and Bobby Burling.

By the way, the Goats suffered the same problems also when they had both starters paired up on the field during this campaign. Continuing to run this way is a bit risky. It was showed against Union too when there was plenty of spaces behind Chivas USA's backline for Philadelphia's forwards to exploit. The second and third goals were symptomatic of CUSA's defending troubles, as the Union perfectly took the edge from Cabrera's high defensive line in both the second and third scores.

Cristian Maidana's goal perfectly showed the vulnerabilities of Chivas USA's back line right now: with midfielder Vincent Nogueira receiving the ball in the middle, in a open space just in front of Cabrera's back line, CUSA's flat four defence found itself with the centre backs far too close each other. In turn, that forced right back Eric Avila to squeeze in, leaving Maidana free on the right side. Forget about the controversial goal that went through this action, and focus on the tactical mistake instead -- it could have been prevented with better play.

Adding insult to injury, as Fred Karl pointed out on Saturday, that the Goats amassed their sixth red card in 13 games after midfielder Oswaldo Minda was sent off in the 83rd minute. That's too much for a team that lost its fifth straight game at home and were outscored 14-2 during that stretch.

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