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Once a Goat: Jonathan Bornstein moves to Atlante, but still doesn't see much action

He's got a new home, but is still fighting for playing time.

Bornstein in a rare appearance for Tigres last year.
Bornstein in a rare appearance for Tigres last year.

Former Chivas USA left back Jonathan Bornstein moved clubs in the latest offseason. While many Goats fans wished the one-time U.S. international would return to his first professional club (which once again owns his MLS rights), he instead moved on loan from UANL Tigres, where he had barely played since signing a deal in 2011, to another Liga MX club, Cancun-based side Atlante.

On one hand, it looks like a solid opportunity for Bornstein, since Atlante have not been a good team for some time and that may pave the way for him to see some minutes. However, Atlante are "leading" the relegation battle at the moment, and are in pole position to drop to Ascenso MX after this season (unless, of course, the league's owners just swap clubs and make a bunch of exceptions like they did regarding the promotion and relegation situation in Liga MX last year). As a result, they may not opt to feature a player who is only at the club on loan, especially one who has barely played the past few years.

Atlante's coach heading into the season, Ruben Israel, was just fired, and a new boss, Pablo Marini, has taken the reins. What does it mean for Bornstein?

So far, it is hard to tell. Through the first three league games of the 2014 Clausura, Bornstein hasn't featured at all as the club has gone 1-1-1, including a win yesterday over Atlas. However, he did see competitive action last week, as Atlante participated in their first group stage match of the latest Copa MX, a 1-0 loss to second division side Merida. According to Tom Marshall, it was Bornstein's first competitive start since September, and he played the full match.

Curiously, after Bornstein's coach at Tigres, Tuca Ferretti, played him at midfield a handful of times, it appears that has become his de facto position in Mexico, as Marshall reported he played as a left-sided midfielder in the game against Merida.

Now he didn't have much of a shot in playing left back with Tigres, it seems, since Jorge Torres Nilo, who had been firmly entrenched as the starter for the Mexican national team until El Tri imploded last year, was the automatic starter for his club. And now at Atlante it seems Cherokee Perez has locked up the left back position for the time being. All of this makes for the weird situation in which Bornstein can't get a league game in Mexico at the position he made his name on in the United States.

Of course, it is worth remembering that the Liga MX season is young, and perhaps Marini will give Bornstein a runout, at either midfield or defense, at some point during this campaign. And it's probably not a shock that he hasn't gotten a ton of minutes to start the season, since he likely doesn't have true match fitness at this point.

But as time goes by, it is worth pondering why Bornstein continues to remain in Mexico, despite his career languishing there. We can't know his inner thoughts, of course, but there are two primary possible motivations. The first is money. Though Bornstein was a prominent player in MLS, he very likely makes more money in Liga MX, possibly much more. And the second is that maybe he really is determined to make it work in Mexico. Publicly, that's what he's said all along, that he wants to really pull off this move in a bigger league and find regular minutes. In many respects, that's laudable, that he didn't run back to the U.S. when he hit some adversity.

Still, infrequent competitive appearances mean that speculation will continue that Bornstein will return to Chivas USA. Obviously, it could happen. But he just moved to a new team, and so I wouldn't expect him to make the jump for the next several months, at least. And we'll see if he can parlay the Copa MX appearance into some consistent playing time for the rest of the 2014 Clausura.

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