Options abound for Chivas USA captaincy
CARSON, Calif. – At the start of the year, Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez named Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Bornstein co-captains of the team for the 2010 MLS season. But when Bornstein was named to the US 2010 World Cup squad and Kljestan was transferred to Belgian club Anderlecht, the Goats were suddenly left without either co-captain for the month of June.
Veteran Mariano Trujillo has stepped up to the plate several times in their absence, and Ante Jazic was given the armband on Saturday with Trujillo serving a one-game yellow card suspension and Bornstein nursing a knee injury.
With such a strong collection of veteran leadership on Chivas USA’s roster, who should serve as the team’s long-term captain once Bornstein, Jazic and Trujillo are all back on the pitch together? MLSsoccer.com takes a look at the candidates.
Bornstein has been a consistent performer on the pitch since he arrived at Chivas USA four years ago, with the Los Alamitos, Calf., native earning three MLS All-Star nods and the 2006 MLS Rookie of the Year award. He has also been a regular member of the US National Team over the course of the last three years and was selected to the US’ 23-man 2010 World Cup roster.
As a captain, Bornstein says he’s more of a “lead by example” guy than a cheerleader, but he certainly commands the respect of his teammates and shows composure in both the run of play and with referees and opponents. And as the player who has served longest at Chivas USA, he is especially well-suited to lead the team out of the tunnel.
Trujillo first donned the Chivas USA yellow armband against Real Salt Lake on May 22, when Kljestan and Bornstein were both with the provisional 30-man US squad for the World Cup warm-ups. A veteran of the Mexican First Division for 11 seasons before joining the Goats in 2009, the Mexican right back is loaded with experience and has served as captain in the past for both Morelia and Pumas UNAM.
He is an exceptionally dedicated player, both on and off the pitch. He works tirelessly in practices, often staying late to run extra laps or work on his touch, and the energy he employs in matches is seemingly endless. Vásquez has lauded Trujillo’s work rate and highlighted both his mental and physical strength in the past.
As a captain, Trujillo is a very vocal leader who is constantly talking positioning and coverage with the players around him. He also speaks both Spanish and English fluently, which allows him to easily communicate with any of his teammates. He has done well in those games that saw him wear the armband, and he would certainly continue to do so if handed the long-term captaincy.
Like Trujillo, Jazic is a veteran outside back with more than 10 years of professional experience. He has played in five different countries and is the only member of the current roster to have played in any level of the revered UEFA Champions League (He competed in the tournament’s qualifying stages during his time with Austrian side Rapid Vienna). Jazic has also worn the yellow armband on the international stage, captaining his native Canada in a match against Jamaica this past January.
As a leader, Jazic exudes a laid-back attitude that is calming to his teammates. He is also very focused on helping the younger players improve and has no problem serving as peacemaker during sticky situations on the field. He presided over the Red-and-White’s recent 3-1 victory over Columbus in his first appearance as Chivas USA’s captain this season, and will continue to provide good leadership, with or without the armband, going forward.