US Men's National Team
Announces World Cup Roster
By BEN JACKEY
One Great Season
When I was a kid, I had few friends and no life. I spent nearly every day playing basketball in my driveway by myself. So, at my grade school, I was one of the better hoopsters. Yet, every year, I made the "B" team. I could never crack into the "A" team fraternity. Most of the "A" team players were pretty good except one kid. We'll call him Johnny.
For four years, Johnny made the "A" team. He sat the bench because, well, he was not good. Yet, he always made the team, and I could never figure out why.
That's the flashback I had as I watched the announcement of the US Men's National Team roster. There were a few head scratchers, like the largely ineffective and slightly injured Robbie Findley and the largely ineffective and slightly injured Eddie Johnson. But they seemed like no-brainer locks compared to Bob Bradley's selection at left back: Jonathan -- we'll call him "Johnny" -- Bornstein.
I will admit that I only get to see about three or four Chivas USA games a year on TV. Bornstein is very serviceable, which is good in MLS terms. However, he is flat out embarrassing on the international level.
Exhibit A: This year's Holland match. In what was nothing short of a shambolic performance, Bornstein took down Wesley Sneijder in the box needlessly, leading to a penalty kick. He was thoroughly beaten more than once that match. For good measure -- and bad luck -- he also handled a shot in the box which was uncalled and deflected a shot past his own goalkeeper into the back of the net.
Exhibit B: Just Tuesday night, Bornstein was juked out of his boots on the flank and had to literally pull down a Czech forward (not a usual starter, by the way) to keep him from providing further humiliation. The right flank looked like a highway as one attack after another started on Bornstein's side.
Bornstein defenders –- if any exist -- will tell you that, during a friendly a couple of years ago, Bornstein played well against Lionel Messi. They are right. However, there are many hilarious and vulgar clichés that apply here, all in the vain of "even the blind squirrel finds a nut." Heck, I'll even defend him to a degree for the Czech Republic match. He was routinely out of position and overplayed his men on multiple occasions. But that was partly understandable considering he was aligned in the back with a clearly far from healthy Oguchi Onyewu and a makeshift defense assembled solely for the purpose of observation by the manager.
Still, his deficiencies are glaring but Bradley continues to wear blinders. Bradley converted Bornstein from forward to left back when the two were at Chivas. There's obviously a bond there. I've even joked there's something more –- perhaps blackmail -– because the selection of this inept child continues to defy all rational thought.
Admittedly, Bradley is without a lot of good options in the back. Our German savior, Jermaine Jones, isn't healthy and didn't make the squad. Oneywu is not match fit. And Jonathan Spector and Jay DeMerit have not had particularly stellar seasons in England.
I'm hoping the gaffer is intelligent enough to stick my favorite USMNT player, Maurice Edu, in the back and help plug the hole, thereby condemning Bornstein to the bench. Because that's where Johnny belongs.