ISAAC HEATH - Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Two weeks ago the name Jonathan Bornstein meant nothing to the country of Honduras, but now the Chivas USA and US national team defender is a hero there.
With his dramatic goal in the waning seconds of stoppage time against Costa Rica, the diminutive and oft-criticized left back not only clinched first place in CONCACAF qualifying for the United States, but also vaulted Honduras into their first World Cup since 1982.
"It was easily the most important goal of my life," Bornstein recently told YA in Chicago.
His goal was greeted with great celebration and tears of joy, briefly unifying a politically divided nation, and prompting the declaration of a national holiday the following day.
"It's pretty crazy, now I probably have a thousand Honduran friends on Facebook, and they write on my wall all the time. I may retire there," he joked.
Not lost in his late game heroics is the fact that the United States now has more unanswered questions than ever.
The injuries to Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu, and the untimely and unfortunate accident of Charlie Davies have left the US shorthanded for the moment. Couple that with the fact that the United States struggled to find consistent play during the last half of World Cup qualifying, and Bob Bradley has his work cut out for him these next 8 months before South Africa.
Three of the positions that seemed to be locked up this summer after the Confederations Cup are now wide open, as the injury plague has opened the door to several other players who previously were on the outside looking in.
"Obviously injuries happen, and Charlie's was extremely unfortunate," continued Bornstein. "It makes you realize that soccer is just a small part of everything, and there are bigger things out there."
"Onyewu's injury is part of soccer. Players obviously get injured all the time, but we are confident that we will have him back and ready for the World Cup."
Despite all the questions surrounding the national team, Bornstein insists that the team is comfortable where they are, and optimistic about the future.
"We qualified for the World Cup, and took first in the group. Everyone is back at their club teams and training hard, and we have a couple more matches coming up and will prepare from there," he concluded.
The Nats have two tough tests coming up next month against Slovakia and Denmark, with the two games presenting an opportunity for a few players to prove they belong, and a chance for Bornstein to strengthen his tightening grip on the left back position.