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Fire left back Jonathan Bornstein staying positive during paused season

COVID-19 is taking away from the moments Bornstein has left in competitive soccer, but he’s trying to stay mentally and physically prepared for whenever the games return.

Jonathan Bornstein controls the ball during the Fire’s March 1 opener in Seattle.
Courtesy of the Fire

Most Fire players are in their 20s and have many years left in their careers. Many of them haven’t even hit the high point of their time in the game and are still on the ascent.

At 35, left back Jonathan Bornstein still has plenty left to give on the field, but his timeline is different than his colleagues’ and the end is closer than the beginning. And as COVID-19 eats away at the season, it’s taking away from the moments he has left in competitive soccer.

“I’ve thought about that, actually, quite a bit,” Bornstein said. “Obviously, the closer you get to the end of your career, you almost cherish every game, every practice a little bit more. Not being able to train with the team due to extenuating circumstances is a bit of a Debbie Downer kind of a thing, but at the same time I’m very thankful that my family and I are healthy and we’re here with the support of the team.”

That isn’t to say the end of Bornstein’s career is imminent. He certainly doesn’t think so, and the way his time in Chicago has started indicates he can still play at a high level.

After joining the Fire last summer, Bornstein solidified a spot that had given the team trouble and helped the back line finally mesh. Bornstein’s strong form carried over to the first two games of 2020, and he even scored in the Fire’s 1-1 draw March 7 at New England to help secure the team’s first point of the year.

As it turned out, that would be their last appearance for a long time. The pandemic halted the sports world the next week, and it’s unclear when and how the season will resume and when Bornstein will be reunited with his teammates.

Bornstein already is looking forward to that moment, whenever it arrives. But it won’t be the start of a farewell.

“Once we get started again, I’ll be even that much more anxious to be on the field and to be making the most of my time that I have left,” Bornstein said. “I try not to think too much about it because, to be honest, my goal is to play until I’m 40, so I’ve got another five years, if it all goes to plan. I try not to let the situation get me down as much as I can.”

The thing is, nobody knows when soccer will return. Bornstein is hoping it comes back sooner than later. He’d rather play in the summer than the end of 2020. But he doesn’t have control over the timeline.

He’s just trying to stay mentally and physically prepared for whatever comes his way.

“I think the uncertainty in any aspect of life is always what’s scary,” Bornstein said. “Doubt casts a shadow upon what could be, what couldn’t be, and at this point, we’re almost all living in the shadow of doubt. It’s a bit of an unsettling thought, but you’ve got to have faith that eventually we’re going to get through all of this and we’ll be able to get back to some sort of normality.”