How about a new signing to start off your week for the Men in Red? The Fire announced this morning that they have signed Jonathan Bornstein, most recently from Maccabi Netanya in the Israeli Premier League.
This doesn’t feel like much of a surprise on a couple of fronts; Nelson Rodriguez was pretty clear after dealing Mo Adams to Atlanta that they were freeing up resources to make a move in this transfer window, and it was only a matter of time. There were also whispers back in the spring that Bornstein was one of the Fire Front Office’s targets prior to the season starting, and Rodriguez confirmed they were interested in the 34-year-old but couldn’t pry him away from Maccabi Netanya until just now.
Borstein’s resume is quite impressive, including MLS Rookie of the Year in 2006 and a pair of MLS All-Star nods with Chivas USA. Post-MLS, Bornstein bounced around Liga MX and for eight years and eventually landed in Israel for the past two seasons, making 35 starts across 36 appearances.
U.S. Men’s National Team fans will remember Bornsteain as a mainstay for a few years in the U.S. player pool, making appearances in just about every international competition from 2007-2010, including the World Cup and Copa America in 2007.
There’s no doubt Bornstein has an impressive resume and was a very good player at one time, and hopefully this turns out to be a signing of another solid, reliable veteran in the to anchor the back line. I can’t say that I’m an Israeli Premier League insider and have seen what kind of form the 34-year-old has been in over the last two seasons, but clearly Nelson Rodriguez believes he has the legs left to be the answer to the left-back conundrum that the Fire have had all year.
So, what does this mean right now? In my opinion, this firmly plants Francisco Calvo at the left center-back position, and assuming Bastian Schweinsteiger continues to compete at an All-Star level at right center-back, Johan Kappelhof will be opposite of Bornstein on the right side of the backline. Marcelo now gets relegated to the bench and will plug in any holes and provide depth as the backline needs.
Look, on paper, that’s an MLS backline you take any day of the week. Proven, reliable defenders who all should be smart enough to gel quickly together as a unit and provide good leadership for the locker room. Bornstein becomes another piece in that equation. But, isn’t that kind of the story of the season? Good on paper, but when the rubber meets the road how will this group perform?
Look, we all know that the Fire have struggled to deal with the depth at outside back all year long, and Bornstein addresses that need immediately. We’ve been screaming from the mountain top for the club to make a move for an outside back, and they acquired a pretty good one. Though, with Bornstein being the one they eventually landed on, I can’t help but to think shipping out a young center defensive midfielder to acquire a veteran left back who is on his last legs of his career feels like a move for a team that is one piece away from making a Supporter’s Shield or MLS Cup run, and the Fire aren’t that.
Could he be that key to unlock this team? Maybe. I think this makes it easier for Veljko Paunovic to not tinker; roll out the same back four every single game for the rest of the year, stop trying to solve for the outside back issues and let the guys along the backline gel together. Get some consistency in the line-up, rotate the attacking players based on form, and catch a win streak. Let’s hope that’s the recipe.