ARLINGTON, Va. – As Jonathan Bornstein returns to the scene of one of the most memorable moments of his career, the Queretaro left back has a message for US national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann: “I’m over here waiting.”
Bornstein and Queretaro face D.C. United Tuesday in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals (8 pm ET, FS2, UDN in US, Sportsnet World in Canada), six-and-a-half years after Bornstein scored his last-gasp equalizer on the same RFK Stadium pitch against Costa Rica in 2010 World Cup Qualifying.
That 2-2 draw that sent Honduras to South Africa ahead of Costa Rica made Bornstein a Honduran national hero, and boosted the already-qualified US squad's spirits days after Charlie Davies’ life-threatening car accident.
But Bornstein hasn’t scored an international goal since and last featured for the US at the 2011 Gold Cup final. And two years after finding regular games with Queretaro, following a less successful stint with Tigres, the 31-year-old former Chivas USA man says he’s ready for the call.
“I knew that after not playing at Tigres for a while, that my national team [presence] was slipping away slowly,” says Bornstein, who moved from MLS to Liga MX after 2010, and to Queretaro in 2014. “Now that I’ve been playing almost two years consecutively on this team, I still say I’m here if they’re looking for a left back or anything having to do with the national team. I’m here and I just want to keep playing.”
Bornstein is a likely starter Tuesday after going the full 90 in Queretaro’s 2-0 victory in the first leg. He insists the up-and-coming Liga MX outfit will be fully focused on the task at hand despite their inconsistent league form.
“It’s our first time in an international tournament whatsoever,” Bornstein said. “They’re putting a huge emphasis on advancing, on winning, and I think each club in Mexico feels the same way.”
Queretaro qualified for the CCL after reaching the two-leg final of the 2015 Clausura last spring, matches Bornstein called the biggest of his Mexican career. He also won the 2011 Apertura title with Tigres, but played a much smaller role.
After also seeing MLS competition in the 2012-13 CCL, he says the league has improved to the point that MLS teams need to treat winning and getting to the Club World Cup as a realistic goal.
“I’ve seen [MLS] grow over the last few years. And I’ve seen the two leagues get a little bit more like equal in level,” Bornstein said.
“The tournament is a big tournament because of what’s at stake. I think American teams, although they’ve not had success in the tournament, they should start looking at it like that.”