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Chivas USA players step up with captains gone

Defender Mariano Trujillo takes on leadership role with Jonathan Bornstein at World Cup and Sacha Kljestan having left for Belgium.

June 27, 2010|By Laura Myers, Los Angeles Times

When Chivas USA lost both of its captains in a matter of weeks, the players could have panicked.

Instead, after watching defender Jonathan Bornstein depart for the World Cup and midfielder Sacha Kljestan sign with Anderlecht in Belgium, other leaders stepped up.

"We were worried a little bit because they were our leaders, but we have experienced players," said defender Mariano Trujillo, who assumed the captain's role for Chivas' June 12 Sacramento Cup match against San Jose, which Chivas lost, 6-5, on penalty kicks.

Trujillo, 33, joined Chivas in 2009 but has played professionally since 1996. The team has several other veterans, including defender Ante Jazic, who made his international debut in 1998, and goalkeeper Zach Thornton, who has played in Major League Soccer since 1996.

Trujillo donned the captain's armband Saturday night against FC Dallas.

"You represent your team using the armband, but even without the armband you have to be a leader," Trujillo said. "It's the personality of each player. … Even with Sacha here I just tried to help the team, what the team needs, doing my best cheering them up and pushing them forward. So I think it's more like an attitude."

Now that the U.S. national team has been eliminated from the World Cup, Bornstein will return to the team within the next couple of days. Trujillo said the captain's absence, while felt, helped the rest of the team to grow.

"Everybody's going to have his moment to be a leader, so that's what we want in this team," he said. "We have a captain, but we don't want just one. We want 18. If we can have more, more is better."

laura.myers@latimes.com

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