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Tactical Talk: Wilmer Cabrera's high defensive line costing Chivas USA once again?

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The coach has staked a claim to the high line -- is it the right call?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Chivas USA were unable to hold the lead once again, as they took an early advantage just to fall behind the Seattle Sounders for a 2-1 loss at StubHub Center. And once again they aided their opponents, playing with 10-men after Marky Delgado was sent off in the 74th minute. Delgado was in the starting lineup to replace injured rookie Thomas McNamara. Wilmer Cabrera's side paid a high price for individual mistakes that set up both Seattle's goals. The Sounders equalizer came in the 24th minute after Dan Kennedy fumbled a routine ball inside the box. The ball fell to the feet of Clint Dempsey whose shot was cleaned up by Lamar Neagle.

The Sounders eventually sealed the game, making the final advantage just eight minutes after Delgado received his red card, exploiting a tactical mistake made by the Rojiblancos' defence.

The Goats failed to cover the ball in the middle of the park allowing Seattle to play a through ball in the channel to Martins. The Nigerian forward played a one-two punch with Dempsey who set up the Seattle forward behind the Chivas USA back line. Martins chipped the ball into the net after a nice run.

Three mistakes occurred into the action that lead to the Martin's second goal of the season.

First and foremost, with a man down, Chivas USA's midfield weren't playing a holder to sit in front of the back four protecting the zone between defence and midfield. It invited the opposition to play the ball vertically into Martins and left Dempsey able to occupy this space, taking a position in front of the Goats' defensive line.

The second mistake involved Eric Avila. Avila is an attack-minded full-back as he is a midfielder converted to playing as fullback. Like the majority of modern full-backs he becomes a dangerous wing-back, pushing forward up to the line, but he's a defensive liability for his side due to his lack of defensive tools. Avila has adjusted to his new position, but he committed a huge mistake in Seattle's second score when he went in the middle too soon and leaving the right side free, exactly the channel Martins hit following a drifting movement. It left Bobby Burling's lack of speed abruptly exposed by Martins' run in behind.

The third mistake concerns the overall Cabrera's defensive approach. Cabrera instructed his team to play high up the pitch. But as we pointed out after the loss to LA Galaxy, the high defensive line Chivas USA employed successfully at the start of this term didn't work again. If Cabrera doesn't fix the situation, this could consistently be a real problem for the Goats. Their center backs clearly aren't comfortable with a high defensive line. Both Burling and Carlos Bocanegra are good center backs but both lack pace. In a system with a high line they are vulnerable to balls being played into the channel. Until now, Chivas USA's back four couldn't deal with the high defensive line approach Cabrera favors.

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