Borja ready to step up at left back for Chivas USA

Costa Rican set to step up while Bornstein is at USMNT camp


CARSON, Calif. – Jonathan Bornstein leaves some big shoes to fill.

With the Chivas USA defensive veteran on duty with the United States National Team for, at least, the club’s next three matches, the Red-and-White are left with a hole at left back in their starting XI.

One option to fill that hole is first-year defender Carlos Borja, who has played the position before and is ready to step in if called upon.

“It’s a big gap to fill with Bornstein gone, but I’ve been training well and working hard,” said Borja. “Hopefully I can do what’s needed to fill in for him if I’m called on.”

Borja made his Chivas USA debut last month, coming on as a sub in the 79th minute to help the Goats to a 3-2 victory over the visiting San Jose Earthquakes. A natural outside defender, Borja allows Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez the option to directly switch one player for another to replace Bornstein, instead of moving multiple players around.

“We’re going to look at making sure that we don’t make too many changes,” said Vásquez of his lineup in the absence of Bornstein. “If it’s a straight up man-for man swap, that will be good for us because it will help us to stay consistent in our formation and how we’re playing.”

Born in Orange, Calif., Borja has played with Mexican First Division sides Cruz Azul and Chivas de Guadalajara. He re-signed with Chivas USA in March after having spent time with the team in the 2006 season.

“I feel great,” said Borja of returning to the Goats. “Every day I try to work on the things that I’m not so good at and I think that I’ve been getting much better.”

Borja’s time in Mexico with Chivas de Guadalajara makes him especially well-suited for the left-back position – he is good friends with Jesus Padilla, the Red-and-White’s left midfielder.

“I’ve known Padilla since we played together in Mexico,” said Borja. “I feel good with him. And I’ve used practices to get used to [central midfielders] Blair [Gavin] and Ben [Zemanski]. I feel good with them as well.”

Borja is also comfortable working with Dario Delgado and Michael Umana, Chivas USA’s preferred pairing at center back.

“We have good chemistry in the locker room and on the field,” said Borja of his Costa Rican teammates. “I think it’s showed in practices.”

Borja knows he isn’t the only option for Vásquez at left back (Gerson Mayen and Jorge Flores come to mind as other possibilities), but he’s certainly ready to step in if his number gets called.

“This could be a good opportunity for me,” he said. “I hope to take advantage of it if it comes.”