Bornstein boasts impressive jersey collection

Chivas USA defender added to his stash during World Cup run

CARSON, Calif. – Traveling back to the United States from South Africa last week, there were a few more things in Jonathan Bornstein’s suitcase than when he left.

The personalized, hand-made vuvuzela that was given to him by the staff at the US National Team hotel, for example. Or the No. 22 jersey of Slovenian National Team defender Matej Mavric that Bornstein got after the US and Slovenia played to a 2-2 draw on June 18.

Mavric’s jersey is not the first in Bornstein’s collection. Not by a mile. Trading jerseys has become a staple of world soccer, and Bornstein hasn’t missed out.

“I have probably have 10 to 15 MLS jerseys, and 10 to 15 international jerseys,” said Bornstein at a press conference last week. “I had them in a bag, but [the collection] was getting too big, so I had to get a bigger bag!”

According to FIFA.com, the tradition of swapping soccer jerseys began in 1931, when France beat England for the first time. The French players were so ecstatic they asked the English players if they could have their jerseys as keepsakes. The English obliged.

Nowadays, players exchange jerseys for a variety of reasons.

“In the MLS, you trade with guys you’ve known or guys you’ve met on the National Team,” said Bornstein. “We’ll finish playing against each other and it’s like, ‘Hey, let’s trade because we know each other.’

“In the international game, it’s more about when you compete with someone for 90 minutes and you respect his position,” Bornstein continued. “Sometimes guys do know each other from playing in other leagues around the world, so guys do trade with guys they know. For me, it’s just whoever is there when the whistle blows. We congratulate each other and say, ‘Good game.’”

Some may wonder whether the transactions happen smoothly at the international level, where the teams often speak different languages. Not a problem at all, insists Bornstein.

“Sometimes it’s non-verbal communication,” he said with a laugh. “You just kinda touch your jersey. It’s like the international symbol. Like the Jozy Altidore jersey on ESPN.”

While Bornstein may boast upwards of 30 jerseys in his collection, there are a few that hold a special place for him.

“I got [Pablo] Aimar’s from Argentina when we played them in the Copa América,” said Bornstein. “That one is pretty special. The memories I have of that game – guarding [Lionel] Messi. I thought my personal performance in that game was pretty solid.”

“Some of my best jerseys are my own jerseys,” he continued. “Like the World Cup one [from the Algeria match] or the [2007] Gold Cup final against Mexico. I have the first Chivas USA jersey that I ever wore framed. Those things mean a lot.”

For now, most of Bornstein’s collection remains in his “even bigger bag,” but he has plans to change that in the future.

“I’ll save them and then one day when I can afford a big house with a game room in it, those jerseys will go on the wall,” he said with a smile.