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Tactical Talk: A team needs a true identity on the field, too

A case for thesis statements in soccer.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

A soccer team needs an identity.

Surely, at the same time, it needs flexibility to alter its gameplan week to week regarding its opponent. But, first of all, it needs an identity. It means to do what you do well running a gameplan no matter who they play.

We have talked a lot about how Chivas USA altered their approach as the season went on. At the start of this campaign, CUSA were a team built on the idea of keeping possession and playing as a proactive side. But it changed a lot week to week, as Chivas USA became a reactive side relying on defensive compactness and counterattacking play. By the way, the problems remained and we're still learning the identity Wilmer Cabrera tried to install here. This season is coming to an end and we still don't know what CUSA intends to be.

Let's take a look overseas. EPL side Manchester United is struggling to regain their past glory despite bringing on one of the best coaches in Louis Van Gaal. They faced huge turmoil and added a lot of new pieces during this transfer window in Ángel di María, Daley Blind, Radamel Falcao, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo. Barring the obvious differences in term of quality and tools, this is the similar turmoil that Chivas USA suffered in recent years.

Van Gaal admitted he has no problem on changing his 3-5-2 formation to meet his footballers' skills. "It's not difficult I think to change the formation, because when we buy a player we also see the positions he can play in other systems," he said recently. He would change his ideas if results did not come. But changing a team's philosophy, that is another question.

After their 0-4 home loss to Sporting KC on Friday, Chivas USA are on a five-game losing streak, with just two goals scored since August. Above all, we don't know what their philosophy is. As pointed earlier, the Goats seem to be a reactive side counting on counterattacks. Well, that is on paper. On the field, the Rojiblancos looked more a defensive side playing compact until the first goal happens and gradually breaking up as the game goes on.

Cabrera described the loss as "frustrating." The play is frustrating too. Sometimes, Chivas USA gave us the idea to be a 0-0 team, one that thinks it's impossible to earn points once a goal is allowed. "We need to find a way to be able to work us back into games if things go wrong," netminder Dan Kennedy said after the game.

This is the key point over there. This squad seems unable to react when the chips are down. They need of a better attitude but also to have clear what they are in a tactical sense. Cabrera needs to change things or maybe, it's just too late to turn the tide.

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