With just more than two weeks to go before the kickoff of the season, Chivas USA head coach Martín Vásquez Wednesday said Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Bornstein will likely serve as the club's co-captains for the year.
Vásquez spoke to reporters on Wednesday morning after a 5-0 scrimmage victory over UCLA. Kljestan and Bornstein both played the first 45 minutes of the match, helping the Red-and-White to a 2-0 halftime lead.
"It's not finalized, but it's not a secret," said Vásquez of the decision. "I feel that these two guys have paid their dues and put themselves in good position to be our leaders. Right now, we have high expectations of them."
Kljestan and Bornstein both joined Chivas USA in 2006, after being selected fifth and 37th overall in that year's MLS SuperDraft. Bornstein went on to win 2006 MLS Rookie of the Year, with Kljestan finishing in second place in the voting.
"The rest of their teammates respond to them," said Vásquez. "They're very positive and others look up to them. Any coach, that's the qualities he wants in his captain and co-captain."
Kljestan and Bornstein have enjoyed immense success since their first year in the league. Kljestan has scored 14 goals in 102 appearances for Chivas USA and earned a spot in the 2008 MLS Best XI, while Bornstein has been named to the MLS All-Star team for three successive seasons.
The pair have also become mainstays with the U.S. national team. Both were on the squad that earned a surprising second-place finish at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, and both played a large part of the USA's qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Kljestan has earned 23 caps and scored four goals with the Red, White and Blue, while Bornstein has two goals in 29 appearances.
"I think a lot of the younger guys look up to us," said Bornstein. "We've both played in international games, played in qualifiers, and in a lot of games for Chivas also. We are the two guys who've been here the longest and [being team captains] would be a good role for us."
Last year, the Chivas USA armband was often worn by veteran midfielder Jesse Marsch. But his retirement, coupled with the uncertain future of Claudio Suarez and the departures of Sasha Victorine and Paulo Nagamura, has propelled Kljestan and Bornstein into larger leadership roles this season.
"We lost a lot of guys who were leaders," said Bornstein. "I think we're the older guys now, which is kind of weird, but I think it's a leadership role that we're ready to take on. We'll do our best to lead this team."
Kljestan and Bornstein are both excited for the start of the 2010 MLS season, and eager to take on the mantle of leading Chivas USA in what hopefully will be the first year that the club breaks past the first round of the postseason.
"Martín has spoken to us and told us that we both represent what Chivas is," said Kljestan. "We've been here a long time and I think Johnny and I will be good leaders of this team."
Jeffrey King is a contributor to MLSnet.com.