Cosmos Mourn the Passing of Chico Borja

Published Jan 28, 2021

News has reached Cosmos Country that legendary midfielder Hernan “Chico” Borja has passed away at the age of 61, according to numerous sources. Chico Borja played for the Cosmos in three outdoor seasons, 1981-82 and 1984, as well as two indoor seasons, 1981-82 and 1983-84.

Chico Borja was born in Quito, Ecuador on August 24, 1959 and at the age of 14 moved with his parents, seven brothers and two sisters, to Belleville, New Jersey. Living just ten minutes away from Giants Stadium, Borja excelled at Belleville High School, earning All-State honors. Opting to stay local for college, he was able to continue attending Cosmos games as he studied architecture at New Jersey Institute of Technology. Scoring 60 goals in his four years at NJIT, he was the only Division III player named to the 1980 Senior Bowl. With a goal and an assist in that showcase, Head Coach Hennes Weisweiler was so impressed by the relatively unknown local talent that, two days later, Borja was selected by the Cosmos in the first round of the 1981 NASL draft.

Borja made an immediate impact as a rookie on the star-studded squad, scoring twelve minutes into his professional debut in a preseason friendly in Cipoletti, Argentina, and again in his league debut against Toronto on Mother’s Day (his beloved mother in attendance). Featuring on the left wing, the local kid living the dream quickly became a fan favorite, finishing the season with 7 goals and 8 assists in 25 games, and another 5 goals and 10 assists his sophomore season. Borja joined Team America for the 1983 season and returned to Cosmos Country with 5 goals and 5 assists for the 1984 season, his third and final outdoor season for his local club.

It was perhaps with the indoor game that Borja most excelled, with 7 goals and 7 assists in the Cosmos 1981-82 indoor season. Having spent the 1983 outdoor season with Team America, Borja returned to Cosmos Country as a dominant force for the 1983-84 indoor campaign, leading the team in scoring with 29 goals and 37 assists in 31 games. Borja left the Cosmos to play indoor full-time after the 1984 outdoor season, playing a season each with the Las Vegas Americans and Los Angeles Lazers, but he is perhaps most celebrated by Wichita indoor fans for his eight seasons with the Wings. Other than two summers on loan to the Albany Capitals in 1989 and 1990, the rest of his career was spent playing the indoor turf-and-boards game.

Borja earned 11 caps with the USMNT, scoring 3 goals. He also played three games for the USA in the 1984 Olympics. As with the Cosmos, arguably his biggest impact as an international was indoor, scoring the only goal for the USA in their 4-1 loss to Brazil in the 1992 FIFA World Cup Futsal Final in Hong Kong.

Named to the NJIT Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986, he was recently inducted in the Wings’ inaugural Hall of Fame class of 2020, and is a finalist for the next class of inductees to the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame.

Beloved by fans and teammates, Chico Borja was a great friend to the Cosmos well beyond his playing years – always happy to help the cause, whether sharing a cherished memory or offering words of encouragement. Going from a fan in the stands to starring for his beloved local club, Chico Borja was an inspiration to Cosmos Country. The New York Cosmos offer deepest condolences to his family.

No information on a memorial is available at this time.