GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Jonathan Bornstein didn't make the US roster for Wednesday's friendly against Mexico, and the left back said he understands what he needs to do to return to the national team picture.
The former Chivas USA defender is lacking first-team opportunities with Mexican club Tigres UANL, and he admitted there may come a time when he has to leave the team if he remains on the fringes of the squad. However, for now, his immediate priority is to win a spot in the Monterrey-based club's first team.
“Of course, you have to be playing to earn a spot on the US team, so obviously a thought in the back of my mind is how long [to stay at Tigres without getting first-team minutes],” Bornstein told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday.
For the last two weeks, the Southern Californian has been playing with Tigres' Under-20 team in a bid to keep up his fitness and match sharpness, but he said he is happy at Tigres and would ideally love to stay.
“I enjoy the lifestyle and the team and everyone associated with it,” said Bornstein after the U-20 game against Estudiantes Tecos on Sunday. “I've just got to do my part and get out on that pitch; if that happens, there won't be talk about me leaving.”
Bornstein said that he has not spoken at length to Tigres' coach, Brazilian Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti, about his situation but that he believes his chance of returning to the first team will improve if he continues to work hard and stay match-fit. Though he has yet to see the field during the current campaign, he made seven appearances for Tigres last season.
The defender's last competitive match was the Gold Cup final in June. The 26-year-old came on for Steve Cherundolo in the 11th minute, but he faced a barrage of media and public criticism following the game as Mexico rallied from 2-0 down to win 4-2. Many blamed Bornstein for the loss and Club América left back Edgar Castillo — who was born in New Mexico and joined Jurgen Klinsmann's squad for Wednesday's friendly — went public saying he would have done a far better job.
The laid-back Bornstein takes it all in his stride.
“I've had times in my career where there was a lot of positive criticism and everyone is saying great things and there are times when it's bad,” said Bornstein. "I try not to pay too much attention and keep working hard."
The 2006 MLS Rookie of the Year was close to former US coach Bob Bradley, who brought Bornstein to Chivas USA, but he is excited by the appointment of the German legend Klinsmann.
“Bob led us a good way for the last four or five years and I grew a lot as a player under him, but soccer is like that — you go through coaches,” said Bornstein. “Everyone is excited to have Klinsmann onboard.”
Bornstein, whose mother was born in Mexico, encouraged the US to “represent the US with all your heart” on Wednesday. He also said he will be back in Monterrey supporting the Stars and Stripes.
“I hope we can start the new era off with him on the right foot,” added Bornstein.
Tom Marshall can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter: @mexicoworldcup