Jon Bornstein has had,so far, a whirlwind of a domestic and international career. 2006 MLS Rookie of the Year honors, then a goal in his first game with the US Men's National Team. Bornstein has goals way above that, but for now his appreciation for where he is, what he has done, and who he gets to play with far exceeds the ambition he has. Undoubtedly, Jon has a bright future - he's Cal-Pomona and UCLA product - and has taken advantage of the fact that has stayed local, surrounding himself with a family and friend support group. Drafted by Chivas USA in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft, he was taken 37th and considered a 'sleeper' pick, if anything. His versatility proved key has he won himself a position in a formidable Chivas USA lineup. Just recently, Bornstein has been called up by former coach Bradley for his second stint at the international scene, the Gold Cup starting June 6th, 2007.
Jon, I wish you nothing but the best and thank you for taking the time!
What kind of youth soccer background did you have growing up in California?
In California I started out playing soccer in Carson. It was a little recreation league that my dad coached me at. After that I moved to Los Alamitos and played AYSO in region 159. After playing all stars and spring select, my parents figured I was good enough for club soccer and that is when I joined a club in Long Beach. From Long Beach I moved clubs to the Irvine Strikers when I was 15. That is where I feel that I became a much better youth player.
Being from California, attending UCLA, and on a squad of predominantly Hispanic players [Chivas USA], how is your Spanish?
My Spanish is nowhere near fluent, but it feels like I am learning more and more each day. I took Spanish while I attended high school and college, which helps out, a little bit. I always tell people that I can understand a lot more than I can speak.
You played for two colleges throughout your whole NCAA career, CSU Pomona and UCLA, how was the transition there?
The transition was rather easy. I felt that if I wanted to become a professional soccer player, I was going to need to transfer to a top of the line Division I school. Cal Poly Pomona was tough competition, but not as tough as UCLA. I knew a lot of the team at UCLA before I went there so all the friends I had on the team made the transition real easy.
How important is it to be so close to home? You have had the fortunate opportunity to stay in the same state (regardless of how gigantic it is) and that must supply you with a huge support system.
Yah, I love playing in southern California. It gives most of my family the opportunity to come see me play whenever they want to. For almost all of them, it is just a drive down the 405 freeway to catch a game. Not to mention all the friends and teammates that are able to come watch as well. I have always stayed local for soccer (school, club, etc…) and so I have built up quite a support group. I feel lucky to have been able to stay local.
What other teams do you follow closely? Players?
I try to watch as much soccer as I can whenever I get the chance. My favorite teams to watch are Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, and many other European Teams. I personally like it when Champions League is going on…exciting times. Some of my favorite players to watch are the guys who play on those teams. Ronaldhino, Christiano Ronaldo, Robben, and Messi, are just a few to name.
Who are you closest to on Chivas USA?
I would say that I am closest to Lawson Vaughn. We hang out a lot off the field and we even room together on the road. He is kind of a stinky guy, but overall he is a great guy. I am stoked we both got drafted when we did.
Any rookie horror stories that, after a year, you can now reflect on? Or were the veterans mostly upstanding gentlemen?
Overall I would say that the Veterans were very easy going and great guys to play with and learn from. Although throughout the year they make you get the goals, the balls, and everything else. There was one time when they played this pretty big practical joke on me. They set up this interview and had told me that I got rookie of the year. This was about a month before they actually announced the award winner. They put balloons by my locker, wrote it up on the board, told the whole team, and wouldn’t stop talking about it. After training, the interviewer came up to me and started asking me how it felt to win the award and as I was answering, they dumped a Gatorade jug on me and told me I got “PUNKED!!!” It was pretty embarrassing but all in good fun you know.
How exactly does the sharing of Home Depot Center work? Do you see Galaxy players quite a bit?
We run into the Galaxy players just about everyday…in the hallways, in the gym, in the parking lot, and also out on the fields. I would say that the biggest thing that sharing the home depot center does is that it creates tension between the teams. That is why El Super Clasico is always so intense.
Is there anyway to explain to those not able to make a SuperClasico (let alone play in one), what is the atmosphere on and off the field like?
It is pretty hard to explain what goes on during a Super Clasico game, but let me just start by saying it is out of control. The atmosphere in the Home Depot Center is electric. The fans are constantly yelling and rooting for their team to win. Friends who have attended games have told me that they have even seen little fights break out. Honestly though, to play in one of those games is amazing and no real words could describe how it feels.
How has the transition from Bob Bradley to Preki been? We have heard there a great many similarities…
Overall, the transition has been rather smooth. Preki was our assistant coach last year so all the players got to know him pretty well. I think that he also picked up a few things from coaching under Bob last year and that is probably why they have many great similarities.
Are there any notable differences between your rookie year and your sophomore year in the MLS? Either on the field, off the field, in the off-season?
Well on the field there are a few differences. One of those would be my responsibility on the team. Last year I was a new player and was trying to adjust to the league and just being a professional. This year I have a better idea of what it means to play and so there is more expected from me. Off the field it is basically the same, other than the fact that I know most of the guys very well and therefore hang out with them more than I did last year because I was just getting to know them.
What is the worst stadium to play in fan-wise?
Fan wise, I feel that playing against the Galaxy, when it is one of their home games, is the worst to play against. They are always screaming foul things at you and trying to get inside of your head.
How amazing was it to score your first international goal in your first appearance for the US Men’s National Team?
It was truly one of the greatest moments of my life. Not only had a dream finally come true, which was to play with the National team, but I scored a goal in that game also. Not to mention that my entire family was watching because the game took place in my hometown (HDC). So I would say that it truly was an amazing moment in my life.
You have seen time at many positions and excelled at many, how much has your versatility helped your career? Did you have that versatility at UCLA?
I would say that my versatility is the only reason that I was able to see time on the field at all last year. Prior to last season, I had never played fullback/defense. All of the spots on Chivas were basically taken last year and left fullback was the only one that wasn’t set. Bob Bradley played me there in a couple pre season games and it turned out that I could actually play in that spot. So basically because I was able to transition to left fullback I was able to get on the field and see some success. At UCLA I also played all the halfback positions and forward so I would say I was versatile there also.
Coupled with the question above, what do you feel your best attributes are as a player? What did you work on most this off-season?
In the off-season I worked on my one on one defending and trying to get stronger physically. Those were two things that I noticed I needed improvement on. Other than that I felt that my best attributes as a player are my ability to get forward from a defensive position and the speed that I bring to the game.
Jon, thank you again and good luck with the rest of the season!