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Tactical Talk: Wilmer Cabrera's changes for Chivas USA force Bruce Arena's hand for LA Galaxy

The coach shuffled the lineup once more, to pretty good effect this time around.

Chivas were much better on the defensive end in this SuperClasico.
Chivas were much better on the defensive end in this SuperClasico.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The glass is half empty or half full. It depends on your point of view. Chivas USA (2-7-5) ended their four game winless stretch thanks to a 1-1 draw against their their cross-town rival in this season's second SuperClasico. Although the LA Galaxy were without Robbie Keane, LA's head coach Bruce Arena switched back to a diamond midfield lining up Landon Donovan at the top of the diamond with with Samuel and Gyasi Zardes paired up front.

For his part, CUSA's manager Wilmer Cabrera shuffled the cards. In fact, the Colombian head coach got a bit tricky, revolutionizing the starting lineup after last week's loss to Philadelphia Union. Carlos Bocanegra and Bobby Burling went back starting at center back, with Tony Lochhead playing at left-back and Donny Toia on the right flank.

This defensive shape allowed Cabrera to move Eric Avila up, fielding him as left winger. "We wanted to give Eric Avila a little bit more freedom to attack; he's an attacking player more than a defender," Cabrera said after the game -- and questions could be raised here on why Cabrera waited until the 14th weekend of the season to make the move -- and it worked as the man formerly known as a full back in 2014 provided a good effort, bringing on freshness to his side.

This move also gave Cabrera the chance to slot Leandro Barrera into a more advanced role: the Argentine was placed up top alongside Erick Torres and both produced some headaches to the Galaxy's back line.

Cabrera's game plane was simple: build two banks of four, relying on defensive compactness and counter-attacking play, trying to exploit Barrera and Torres' tools with the team in possession. The mission was accomplished. Although the Galaxy outshot Chivas 21-6 and held the ball for a significantly more time, ending the game with the 65 percent of ball retention, they rarely produced clear goal scoring opportunities.

It must be said that there were some mistakes -- as happened when both Toia and Mauro Rosales was beaten by Zardes on Galaxy's score - but the defensive effort was solid this time. It clearly wasn't a win, but the Goats went out from the game with something. The fact that the Rojiblancos forced Arena to change his lineup after Torres' goal, switching from the starting 4-4-2 diamond to a different scheme, i.e. a basic flat four midfield with Donovan up top and Zardes into a wider area, means Chivas were finally able to play their way, addressing the game as they wanted. They executed their tactics perfectly.

Although this team is still lacking of balance -- and this is the half empty of the glass -- as the Goats seemed unable to add offensive firepower to defensive compactness, Cabrera's side found the way to nullify Dallas, Portland and, now, the Galaxy's attack. We'll call it progress.

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