Interview: USA World Cup star Jonathan Bornstein

The USA defender tells James Martin why he fancies his chances

June 10, 2010
Jonathan Bornstein in action against Brazil at the 2009 Conferations Cup

Jonathan Bornstein in action against Brazil at the 2009 Conferations Cup

Five years after competing at the 17th Maccabiah Games, USA left-back Jonathan Bornstein is relishing the prospect of locking horns with Wayne Rooney and co when he lines up against England tomorrow night.

Bornstein, 25, is one of 23 American players who have the added incentive of earning a bonus of £617,000 should the team ranked 14th in the world win the competition. The £13 million payout was negotiated by Washington lawyer Mark Levinstein.

Having fought off competition from Heath Pearce for the left-back slot, Bornstein, who has a Jewish father, won MLS Rookie of the Year in 2006.

Looking ahead to the big game, Bornstein said: "Playing England first means we have had to adapt to be at the highest level and we will know how close we are to hitting our form right at the start.

"We can then take that benchmark into the Algeria and Slovenia games. We will focus on our own game; that's what we are taught to do in America."

Bornstein, who with World Cup teammate Benny Feilhaber, helped Maccabi USA take silver in Israel in 2005, expects to be in for a busy game. "Some of England's right-sided players, like Lennon and Wright-Phillips are very fast, so it can be a case of giving them more space or not letting them get the ball in the first place."

The Chivas star is quietly confident of beating the 7-1 shots. "We can win the match. We are a good team who have, in glimpses, really shown what we are capable of. Our own threat is substantial. We've had the benefit of some of our guys playing in Europe. Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Mark Bradley have adapted really well to Europe. We are a quicker team than in the past.

"We have moved into the modern era and the players we produce at home are influenced by the European game where pace and power is everything. US players have shown they can do well in Europe."

Bornstein's routes go back to Romania. He said: "I was speaking to my grandma about this recently and the family were originally Romanian Jews, although the name has changed somewhat. My family upbringing was not religious, although my dad was brought up religious.

"My dad didn't instill that in us, but I knew about the festivals, like Chanukah and Passover. I was not observant; my brother and I were more concerned about going to soccer practice than temple."

Recalling the 2005 Maccabiah final, he said: "It was disappointing to lose but a great experience to take part in. Most of that side are playing at the lower levels in America now."

Bornstein made the breakthrough via the youth development teams at UCLA and was drafted into MLS by Chivas for the 2006 season by coach Bob Bradley, who is now manager of the national team. He has 29 caps and captained the side for the first time against El Salvador recently.

He believes the standard of the MLS has improved since top players from Europe and the Premier League joined. And he is learning all the time. "Two years ago I marked Beckham in one of the most intense games I've been involved in. He was on the right of midfield, where he still tends to play because of his crossing, although he can drift in more in MLS games to make the play.

"With Beckham you've got to get tight to him and not let him turn. He won't beat for me pace."

With matches against England, Slovenia and Algeria coming up over the next fortnight, Bornstein will be looking to catch the eye of talent-spotters in the terraces and clinch a big money move. I hope to make it to Europe. Possibly in the Bundesliga or one of the top two divisions in England."

Last updated: 9:48am, June 11 2010