MLSsoccer.com's "Under African Skies" series is a look at what the first World Cup held on the African continent means to Major League Soccer's African players. Today we feature Danleigh Borman of the New York Red Bulls, who hails from South Africa.
South African native Danleigh Borman’s face lights up when you start talking about the World Cup. Then again, this isn’t just any World Cup. This time, the tournament is in Borman’s homeland and the Red Bulls’ player couldn’t be more amped up for it if he drank a case of Red Bull.
“I’m so happy, I really am," Borman told MLSsoccer.com. "It’s great for the country and it’s great for Africa. It’s going to be a really good tournament."
The entire league has time off for a World Cup break and the vacation afforded Borman the chance to watch Friday’s opening to the tournament. He was pleased with what he saw from the host nation as they battled Mexico to a 1-1 result.
“I thought it was good—they came out to play,” Borman said. “They struggled at first but then they settled in. They showed Mexico a lot of respect to start things off – too much maybe – but then they found themselves and began to play their way. I thought they were going to win.”
Borman thinks that South Africa, backed with home-field advantage, can do very well in the tournament. Gazing into his crystal ball, he is predicting a win over Uruguay and a draw against France. That would be enough points, said Borman, to advance to the next round.
Borman is having a renaissance of a season with the Red Bulls right now. He’s recently worked his way into the starting lineup, and his versatility has seen him play well in both league and cup games, helping New York place tied for first place in the Eastern Conference. Borman, now in his third year in the league and with the club, has been a very solid performer for the team.
WATCH: Borman rescues Coundoul
So much so that he might be an underdog to be named MLS’ most improved player, even though as a left back, he might not have the gaudy stats of a more attacking minded player.
And with that, maybe he’ll get a call-up to Bafana Bafana, the South African national team.
“I’m not worried about that right now," Borman said. "First I need to perform well here with my club. If I’m taking care of that and we’re winning and doing well, maybe other things will happen.”
But right now, Borman is still on a high from the start of the World Cup. Though he wishes he was in South Africa for the tournament, he said he will never forget watching the television set Friday morning.
“I got goosebumps just watching it,” Borman said. “I was sitting there, and just so proud to be from South Africa.”
Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs. He can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012