He's signed, sealed and all but delivered to Mexico's UANL Tigres, but that didn't dissuade the Portland Timbers from taking a chance on Chivas USA captain Jonathan Bornstein.
The Timbers, one of two clubs joining Major League Soccer next season, selected Bornstein (Los Alamitos/Los Alamitos HS and UCLA) with the 15th selection in Wednesday's 20-player expansion draft, no matter that the left back/midfielder is beginning a four-year contract in January with Monterrey-based Tigres.
"Contract's are only worth the paper they're printed on. It doesn't mean he's going to complete the contract," said Portland head coach John Spencer, a Scotsman who finished his playing career with the Colorado Rapids in 2004 and served as an assistant coach with the Houston Dynamo for four seasons. "And possibly after the course of the contract, he might end up back in Major League Soccer."
The Timbers made two risky picks, also taking Real Salt Lake's Robbie Findley, a teammate of Bornstein's on the U.S. World Cup team in South Africa. Findley, a former Galaxy forward who played college soccer at Oregon State, has said his intention is to look for a club in Europe.
"There were reasons behind those decisions," said Spencer, who noted they could have value in a trade. "We'd love to bring [Findley and Bornstein] to Portland. We understand that might not be in the immediate future. If we were able to bring Bornstein back, that would be tremendous. ... I think anything’s possible in the game."
Bornstein, 26, has expressed interest in returning to MLS at some point in his career, and he hoped to return to Chivas USA. The Goats, a team source acknowledged, would consider trading for his rights should he come back into the league.
The Timbers traded the top selection in the draft, FC Dallas midfielder Dax McCarty, to D.C. United for defender Rodney Wallace in a deal that had been agreed to before the draft.
"His multiyear contract with Tigres factored in our decision to unprotect him in the draft, especially as we focus on building for next season," Chivas VP of soccer operations Stephen Hamilton said in a statement. "I’m sure we’ll revisit this issue if and when he chooses to rejoin MLS."