Photo by Juan Miranda/Chivas USA
Jonathan Bornstein is a local lad who was born in Torrance, raised in Los Alamitos and has played his entire collegiate and professional career in Los Angeles.
And last weekend in the MLS playoff opener against Real Salt Lake he played an unusual role for Chivas USA in central defense, dislodging experienced Mexican icon Claudio Suarez from the lineup in the process.
He’s also a perceptive (and fun) player to interview, which I did via e-mail this week ahead of Saturday’s Chivas USA-Real Salt Lake playoff decider (tickets still available, folks):
Q: How did you like playing in central defense last week? Ever played there before? Do you prefer left back or are you getting used to being in a utility role?
A: Central defense was pretty interesting. I’d never played there as a professional before – actually, I’ve never played there before (period), so definitely my first time ever! I liked it. I liked the responsibilities of having to win balls out of the back, everything over the top I felt like was easy to read. It gives you a little bit more defensive responsibility, but at the same time you don’t attack at all – you just get balls to the forwards. In terms of being a utility player, it’s always good to be that type of player because you get on the field a lot more, not just in one spot. But sometimes I wish there was more consistency, and master one spot rather than bounce back and forth.
Q: Assess your season compared to last year. Like the team you struggled a little with injury this year and you didn’t seem to recapture last year’s form. What do you think?
I agree with that a lot. I think injuries been a burden on our team this year, myself included. We haven’t been able to field one lineup (consistently), whereas last year we had a core group of guys – probably 12, 13 guys – that played every game, and were healthy every game and would show up and you knew who was going to play. So it’s been a big difference, and for myself included, I think last year was a lot more consistent. I knew where I was playing a lot, not being injured, and this year’s just been a little bit more of a battle.
Q: What’s your perspective on the U.S. Men’s National Team? For a while it seemed you were the next regular left back until your injury. What do you think you need to do to get a regular slot back?
A: Same thing. Consistency is a big thing. I’ve got to continue to play well day in and day out, and if that happens and you’re free from injuries, I think that will help propel me to the National Team, or even further.
Q: Chivas USA is in the same spot coming into Saturday’s game as you were last year in the playoffs, having lost the first game, but if anything the team’s injury issues are even worse this year. What does the team have to do to ensure things turn out differently?
A: I think we need to stick together as a team, and we need to trust in the guys who will be playing. I actually think we have a bit more depth this year than we did last year, so that might be a big help. What we also need to do differently is score goals. I think in my last three playoff games we haven’t scored a goal, so you’re not going to be able win a playoff series if you don’t score, even if you do keep goals out of the back of the net. That’s it, we just have to score goals and play together as a team to our best abilities.
Q: You were born in Torrance, grew up in Los Alamitos, went to college at UCLA and now play for an L.A.-based pro team. How freaking cool is it to have played virtually your entire soccer career “at home” close to family and friends?
A: It’s amazing. I was talking about it this week with my dad, about how it’s been pretty amazing to get to play in front of my friends and family almost every weekend. People who knew me in college get to come to the games, and high school friends and high school fans. So it’s pretty cool, I couldn’t ask for anything more, and hopefully it keeps going well.
Q: You just recently started eating sushi (it says in the Chivas USA media guide). Mmmmm. Can you recommend a sushi place or two locally? Got a favorite?
A: I’ve been to quite a few places around Los Al. We go to this one called Sushi Moto and it’s pretty good – they’ve got all you can eat lunch specials for like 19 bucks, and dinner is 25 dollars for all you can eat. So for sushi I feel like it’s a good price. Also, down in Seal Beach I’ve been trying to get to this one for probably two years, and every time I go it’s too packed so I’m thinking it’s good – it’s called Mahe. I’ve been there once when we actually got in, but I didn’t have sushi because that was at the time when I didn’t like sushi!