Sunday, January 11, 2009

Training Room Talk - Jonathan Bornstein

Jonathan Bornstein's career with the national team is a tale of two years. The first was highlighted with the thrill of scoring his first goal while earning his first cap, then proceeding to become one of seven players in U.S. history to record at least 10 appearances in his debut year. The second was marred by injuries and rehab that reduced his time with the team to a single game. Entering his second January camp, Bornstein has added a layer of confidence and maturity to his ever-present energy and enthusiasm. sat down with Bornstein to get his insights on his past and future at the sport's highest level.

us: You told us at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase that you were planning on building a deck at your house in the off season. How did that project go?

JB - The deck took a backseat to getting new windows installed. I figured it was more of a necessity for energy conservation. I also didn't want to waste too much energy building a deck when I could be getting prepared for the national team camp. And no, I didn't install the windows myself either!"

us - Your first time in a national team camp came two years ago. Are things different for you this time around?

JB - "A little bit. This camp I had more of an understanding of what to expect. I remember my first day of practice with the national team, which was also Bob's first day as the head coach. It was all brand new. Now coming in here and seeing so many young guys here, I start to think of the fact that I have had numerous experiences with the full team. I know what is expected out of you every day. I think I have a better feel for it."

us: What advice would you give to the younger players who are getting their first experience at this level?

JB - I'd say talk to the other players as much as you can to get a feel for what they've done to keep getting called back in. Listen to the coaches - they have a lot of insight. The faster you can get on the same page as them, the better chance you have. You are here for a whole month, and hopefully that pays off by getting to play in the game. Once given that chance, you have to make the most of it."

us: You had an amazing start to your career, going from MLS Rookie of the Year to playing in a double-digit number of games for the national team in the first year. All of that came to a halt with the injuries you suffered. How did you deal with the roller coaster?

JB - "The first year was a dream come true. Getting to represent your country in more games than you can count on your fingers is a fantastic feeling. To go from that into a year where you are plagued with injuries was both disheartening and disappointing. In the back of my mind, I felt that once I was healthy and getting back into the swing of things that I would eventually get called in and get a chance to earn a spot. I feel like I'm in that spot now, transitioning back into full fitness and proving myself all over again."

us: When you entered camp in '07, you were essentially still a converted left back. Are you more comfortable in the position now?

JB - "I've learned the ins and outs of the position quite a bit more since that time. Coming into that camp, I'd only been in that spot less than a year, so I felt it wasn't that strong. I might even have still thought of myself as a midfielder or a forward. But after playing in the spot for both Chivas and the national team in my second year as a pro, I started to consider myself as a true left back. Last year with Chivas I played in a variety of positions, so it still crosses my mind every once in a while about where my perfect spot would be. As for the national team, I definitely feel that left back is my strongest position. I feel comfortable in that role."

us: In 2009, there are 10 World Cup qualifiers, the FIFA Confederations Cup, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. At the end of it, the pool of players for 2010 will be fairly well defined. How do you see this year for the national team?

JB: "This is a big year for players in terms of the opportunity to claim a spot on the national team, especially if we are able to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. I'm a big believer in not getting too far ahead of myself. I know it sound cliched, but I try take it one day and one game at a time. Hopefully I stay healthy so that when the time arises to get my chance, I am fit and ready to compete."

us: You have seen the coverage of the decisions of both Michael Orozco and Jose Francisco Torres to play for the United States. As a man who was eligible to play for both the U.S. and Mexico, how do you view the choice that players in this position have to make?

JB - For me it wasn't even a question. I was born and raised here. To be honest, I had never even considered the possibility of playing for Mexico until people started asking me about it when I started playing for the U.S. For those guys, it's a much different set of circumstances. While born in the U.S., for the majority of their professional careers they have been playing in Mexico. For them it would be a harder decision: to play for the country where you were raised, or the place where your career has grown. They know the style, the players, and are probably very comfortable there. My father is American, but if he had been Mexican and been submersing me in the culture, taking us to his hometown, meeting family, and things like that, it would be much harder. Since I play for a club with Mexican roots, I understand how passionate the fans and media are about their teams, and it probably made it that much more difficult. I certainly empathize with those guys."

us: Do the media still ask you about being torn between the U.S. and Mexico?

JB - Yeah, almost every interview! The first year the topic was new to everyone. Even now they still ask the same questions about whether or not I feel connected to Mexico. After two years of playing for the U.S. National Team, I think the question has been answered."

1 comment:

Evan said...

Real great interview. Jonathon and me both got taken out by injuries and we both gotta fight our way back. It is real hard but it sure is worth it.