An Audience With King Jonathan Of Honduras

Since the US faces Honduras on January 23rd, TSG spent a few minutes with international hero Jonathan Bornstein at USMNT training camp yesterday. It was Johnny B’s header in the dying moments versus Costa Rica in the final World Cup qualifier that stunned the Ticos, capped an emotional come-from-behind draw for the US and propelled Honduras into the World Cup finals.

TSG was curious whether Bornstein thought he would get any special treatment from the Hondurans should he take the field versus Los Catrachos. Say, might they let him walk one into the goal at the start for all he did for their country?

After a chuckle the US defender said, “I don’t think so. There will be a positive reception but they are not going to give anything away in terms of on-the-field stuff. It will be more positive off-the-field.”

If the upcoming friendly had any importance, I’d have suggested to Bob Bradley that Bornstein be deployed further up the pitch just in case the Hondurans were keen on showing their admiration. Given Bornstein grew up playing forward he probably wouldn’t need much, if any “assistance” to put one in the back of the net. In fact, it was then Chivas USA coach and current USMNT head coach Bob Bradley that shifted the California native to left fullback in his first season in the MLS.

Bornstein has seen some time up the pitch for the USMNT but has mostly patrolled left back since his first cap and national team goal versus Denmark in January of 2007. For all the talk towards the end of 2009 that the US could benefit from having a more offensive-minded left back like Edgar Castillo, Bornstein would probably suggest that the US already has that on the roster…him. “[I] try to get forward as much as I can and use that attacking mentality as a left fullback.”

In addition to his up-the-field forays, Bornsteins’s experience at forward has impacted his approach to defending as well. Said Johnny B., “Now I am guarding against the player that I used to be. I think it gives me a little bit of an advantage knowing the mindset of where forwards want to go, how they want to play. So, I…just turn it the other way and get myself in spots that I think the forward will want to get.” Bornstein then went on to admit the aspect of his game that has needed the most work as a result of his transition to the back-line has been his one-on-one defending.

No doubt Bornstein’s 2009 performance for the USMNT had its highs and lows, but should he continue to progress in 2010, he’ll provide Coach Bradley with another good option across the back-line heading into the World Cup in South Africa.

And for all those wondering, Bornstein has no ambitions to pursue career in stand-up comedy now or in the future. “Definitely not,” said Bornstein with a laugh as he explained he has no plans to work on his routine. (see clip below)

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/14 at 6:16 AM

    Great read Mark.

    I must say from watching in camp….Bornstein looks extremely seasoned and fluid. True he is playing against arguably lesser opponents. But it was clear from Tuesday’s camp that Bornstein is one of the better players there.

    In the battle at LB, I think Johnny B Good has the leg up…the way I described Heath Pearce on one observation is… you know when they say at the NFL draft that a corner back has “loose hips”….in other words he can turn and go quickly with a receiver….Pearce…on Tuesday…didn’t have that.

    Opponents closed on him fast during practice as he was less fluid than Bornstein with the ball.

    Take all of this as a disclaimer as I am a fan of Bornstein’s game.


  2. I agree, I have always thought that our right and left backs have been offensively-minded and good going forward. Cherundolo is an asset to the offense when he’s in, as is Bornstein although they have different strengths. Spector and Boca both get forward well too. Hejduk has certainly lacked in that area towards the end of his career, but that is to be expected. There aren’t many teams out there who have fullbacks who score a lot of goals, so it seems silly to think anyone would expect that.

    Is it June yet?


  3. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/01/14 at 1:53 PM

    I want defenders who can, you know, actually defend. Bornstein just doesn’t do that well enough yet to be on the national team. He scares me every time he’s asked to defend a clever forward.

    I know it’s all sexy to have a back who can go forward, but that’s great only if they can take care of business defending first. I don’t doubt he’ll get better. I just don’t think he’s there yet.

    I guess he’ll make the squad, but it doesn’t say good things about our depth at that position.


  4. […] Recent TSG interviewee King Jonathan (Bornstein) of Honduras talks to ESPN Soccernet about his gameday routine and a recent encounter with a Honduran soccer fan. […]


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