[INTERVIEW] Attack-minded U.S. 2010 World Cup defender Jonathan Bornstein was born and raised in Southern California and remained in the area for college (Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA) and pro ball (Chivas USA). The 25-year-old explains why he's joining Mexico's Tigres UANL following the 2010 MLS season and how his youth experience helped shape his career.
SOCCER AMERICA: What prompted your move to the Mexican league?
JONATHAN BORNSTEIN: It’s always been an interest of mine to play in Europe, Mexico or South America -- to get the experience of playing away from home. When the opportunity arose and the interest was there, I weighed my options and I decided Tigres was good fit overall.
SA: Do you watch a lot of Mexican league?
JB: Yeah, as much as I can. I probably watched even more when I was younger because that was pretty much all that was on, growing up in Southern California.
SA: How do you think your style of play will suit the Mexican league?
JB: I think the Mexican league is very technical. For me personally, I think I’ll do well, being an outside defender able to attack. I think my style suits it well. I’m really looking forward to it.
SA: It seems that American players such yourself – defenders who are capable of consistently contributing to the attack -- remain too rare. What do you think has made you a successful attacking defender?
JB: I never played fullback until my first professional soccer game. In youth, I played forward. In college, I played forward, central midfield and outside mid.
When I got drafted by Chivas USA, [then-]Coach Bob Bradley turned me into a left fullback and I played that position for the first time in my career.
I grew up as an attacker and never defended. So I tried as quickly as I could to get my one-on-one defending down, my team defense down, and also kept contributing to the attack, because that’s what I already knew how to do.
I think versatility is the huge attribute that elevated me to where I am in my career -- being able to play different positions on a whim during a game. They throw me at forward, they put me at forward, or at center back.
I contribute my success to knowing the game and knowing how to play different positions.
SA: Do you have Mexican citizenship because your mom was born in Mexico? [Which means not counting against the foreigner limit.]
JB: I’m in the process of getting that.
SA: Where in Mexico is your mother from?
JB: She was born in Ciudad Juarez and she came here when she was a young girl.
SA: How’s your Spanish?
JB: It’s getting better. I understand it better than I can speak it, but I‘ll start practicing more. A lot of guys on the team [Chivas USA] speak Spanish.
SA: Did you learn Spanish from you mom?
JB: I didn’t actually grow up with my mom. I took Spanish in high school for four years and I took classes in college, which is why I think I’m better writing and reading in Spanish because they stress literature in school.