CARSON, Calif. – In the 85th minute of Saturday’s game against the Chicago Fire, Chivas USA captain Jonathan Bornstein stepped off the MLS field for the last time before heading to Mexican club Tigres next season.
Replacing him was 18-year-old rookie Bryan de la Fuente, a local kid from the club’s Academy that had only been signed to the first team two months before.
Saturday’s game was Bornstein’s 131st appearance for Chivas USA, which is the current club record. It was de le Fuente’s first. Talk about passing the torch.
“There aren’t really any words to describe the way I’m feeling right now,” de la Fuente said after the game. “I’m just happy that I had the opportunity to make my debut.”
The rookie slotted into Bornstein's left back position, but the naturally left-footed player could find a permanent home in either the defense or the midfield with Chivas USA.
De la Fuente began turning heads while competing for the Red-and-White U-18 side at the Copa Chivas in Guadalajara and the Copa Saprissa in Costa Rica, two of the most prestigious youth tournaments in the region. He had also appeared for the United States U-20 national team this year at both the Dallas Cup and Ireland’s Milk Cup, which the team won.
De la Fuente signed with the Goats’ first team on Aug. 25 and wasn’t sure he’d see any MLS action at all this year until just before Saturday’s match.
“Michael Umana was going to play in the game, but they told him to rest and they told me to change,” de la Fuente said. “I was really nervous; I couldn’t believe it. I was trembling, but I started to calm down and once I stepped on the field, the nerves went away and it went well.”
De la Fuente enjoyed the support of his siblings at The Home Depot Center on Saturday. His parents were in Guadalajara and couldn’t be there in attendance, but watched what will likely be the first of many appearances for de la Fuente.
“My parents followed the game on TV,” de la Fuente said. “And my brothers and sisters were in the stands. It was great to have the support.
“I’m really happy to have started my professional career,” he added. “I’m not happy with the result, but I’m still very content with my debut.”
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