Bornstein's Had a Crazy Month...
In the past month, Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein went on a personal tour of the West Wing with Vice President Joe Biden, met President Barack Obama, and received a shout-out from John Stewart on The Daily Show. When he wasn’t interacting with celebrities, Bornstein played with the United States in the World Cup in South Africa.
Bornstein started two games for the Red, White, and Blue, helping the United States finish in first place in Group C.
“It was a good experience for me personally and also for the team,” Bornstein said. “Obviously, we wanted to do better than what we did, and we are all a little disappointed to be out of the tournament and back home watching the games. But, we set out at the beginning to do something special, and accomplish the goal of getting out of our group. The fact that we took first was something to be very proud of.”
After not playing Bornstein in the matches against England and Slovenia, United States head coach Bob Bradley gave him the opportunity to start against Algeria, and the United States held their opponent scoreless for the first time in the World Cup.
“After the first two games, I thought the back line did a pretty decent job. We gave up some early goals, but after those immediate goals, I thought throughout both games they did a good job, so I did not think any changes would be made,” Bornstein said. “I was just kind of crossing my fingers and hoping that I would get in. Then, Bob came up to me and told me, ‘Hey, we are going to go a little differently this game, and we are going to be playing you and sliding [Steve Cherundolo] over instead of [Oguchi Onyewu].’ I was extremely happy that I was going to get a chance to show myself at the World Cup.”
When Landon Donavan scored in injury time against Algeria to allow the United States to win Group C, Bornstein cheered from the bench after being substituted out for DeMarcus Beasley in the eightieth minute.
“When Landon scored that goal against Algeria, it was like a roller coaster of emotions. It was a pretty exhilarating moment,” Bornstein said. “At halftime, we knew that England was winning, but even before the game, we had a feeling that it was going to take a win to get us through, and anything less than that was unacceptable.”
After the Algeria game, Bornstein and the other United States players celebrated in the locker room with former President Bill Clinton. Clinton enjoyed a beer with the players, and told the team that the win made him feel more American than he has ever felt, according to Bornstein.
Life in South Africa was not always exciting for the World Cup squad. The United States hotel was surrounded by stone walls and barbed wire, and the players’ schedules were very structured.
“There was not much to do,” Bornstein said. “There were times where guys felt like they were at soccer camp like when they were 13-years old. The schedule was pretty standard. You wake up, go to the gym, come back, have lunch, and then you have an hour or two before you go to training. You come back, eat again, have meetings, and then you have from about 8:15 until 12 when you have to be back in your room. It was basically the same schedule every day unless it was game day. It got a little bit repetitive and you got a little bit of cabin fever, but the way I looked at it was that ‘I am at the World Cup,’ so it was worth it and I needed to be focused on soccer.”
The United States squad was lauded for their ability to make exciting comebacks, but Bornstein would like to see the team avoid allowing early goals so that they do not have to constantly play from behind.
“It comes down to the lack of focus and energy at the beginning,” Bornstein said. “We have to figure out a way to change that.”
Although he was exhausted after playing in the World Cup, Bornstein suited up for Chivas USA in Carson less than a week after returning from South Africa.
“I was watching the Chivas games while I was gone, and I know that we have not won a game in a while,” Bornstein said. “I wanted to show the guys that I am very committed to this team, and we can turn it around.”
Bornstein and Chivas made headway last weekend, playing to a draw versus Philadelphia and made a strong showing in the Open Cup on Tuesday in Houston. Tomorrow night the team will have a chance to take the next step when they play Kansas City on the road. After the month that Bornstein has had, a Chivas win would be icing on the cake.