Bornstein ready for his new challenge
CARSON, Calif. – It’s official. As of Jan. 1, 2011, Jonathan Bornstein will be a Tiger. Or perhaps more appropriately, un Tigre.
The Chivas USA captain has inked a contract with Mexican First Division side Tigres UANL that will take the 25-year-old to Monterrey, Mexico, for four years starting next year. It will be Bornstein’s first foray into international club soccer.
“The level in the Mexican First Division is very high,” Bornstein said after Chivas USA training on Tuesday. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to be there; to improve myself. I think I can do well down there.”
Out of contract with Chivas USA at the end of the year, Bornstein had no shortage of helpful advice during the decision-making process by which he finally settled on a move to Tigres. Playing with the Goats as well as his time with the US National Team has afforded him close contact with a number of players who know the Mexican league well.
“I talked with José [Torres] during the World Cup,” said Bornstein. “I have also spoken to Paulo [Nagamura] and Herculez [Gomez] about the soccer down there. They all have enjoyed playing down there and enjoyed the lifestyle. That was definitely influential in my decision to go play down there.”
Bornstein will be the second player from Chivas USA’s 2006 MLS SuperDraft class to move to a foreign league. Former co-captain Sacha Kljestan transferred to Belgian giants Anderlecht last month, and was one of the first phone calls Bornstein got after his own announcement came out in the American press.
“I talked with Sacha,” said Bornstein. “He was very positive. [My US teammates] are all excited. They’re looking forward to watching me play. It’s all been positive.”
The move to Monterrey will take Bornstein away from Southern California for the first time in his life. The Los Alamitos, Calif., native has played every minute of his high school, college and professional soccer career in SoCal up to this point.
“I think it’s a good time for me in my life,” said Bornstein. “I’m 25; I’m ready to go explore the world, in terms of living somewhere else and learning the language and culture. I think it will be a good challenge for me. And if anything, I think it will improve my soccer. Just having to be a man on my own. I’m looking forward to it all.”
While his time at both center back and left midfield is proof of his versatility, Bornstein has spent the majority of his career as a left defender. It’s a role he’s comfortable performing, and hopes to continue perfecting with Tigres.
“Left fullback is a great option,” he said. “The way that I’ve seen the Mexican league play, they like attacking outside backs. They like them to get forward and they find them a lot. I see it being a good spot for me.”
For now, Bornstein is focused on helping Chivas USA climb out of the Western Conference cellar. The current team captain is fully committed to finishing the 2010 MLS season – including being named to his fourth All-Star team – and has no intention of checking out early.
“I wanted to stay to finish out my contract to show Chivas that I was committed to the end,” said Bornstein. “That way it would be starting something new rather than just going out in the middle of something.”