MLS Spotlight: Collin enjoying the Sporting (KC) life

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By JOSE M. ROMERO

Aurelien Collin is big, bald and bad. The bruising type of bad. 

The Sporting Kansas City center back is as physical a player as there is in MLS, and he doles out thumpings regularly. The native of France knew from a young age what position he wanted to play, so he channeled his energy into becoming a defender who thrives on ball distribution and making attacking players pay for forays into the box. 

"I love football, but I love contact,too," Collin said. "At the end of the game looking in the eyes and seeing that (opposing player saying) 'you beat me up on every part of the field. I could not score. I could not do nothing' is the best feeling I can have after a game."

But some things set him apart from his peers. The man who likes to crash the goal box for headers — he scored on such a set piece play last weekend against Real Salt Lake and did it again Wednesday in Vancouver — plus enforce in his own end is the same guy who enjoys shopping, wine tasting, museums, travel and… salsa dancing. 

Collin showed off his Latin rhythm with an impressive salsa step that would rival that of the New York (NFL) Giants' Victor Cruz immediately after his goal Saturday. 

"Since I was young I was into music, and since I've been to the Dominican Republic I have a lot of friends in the Dominican Republic (from) when I was 18," Collin said while on his way to Vancouver for Sporting KC's match against the Whitecaps this week. "I'm crazy about Latin music. Music is a part of my life and dancing, too. I'm not a good singer, I'm not a perfect dancer but I love the music."

Collin, 26, is the definition of a citizen of the world-slash-Renaissance man. He's visited "30, something like that" countries, and has played for teams in France, Spain, Scotland, Greece, Wales, Portugal and the U.S. He speaks four languages — French, Spanish, English and Portuguese. 

He makes it a point to take in as much about a new place as he can. He'd planned to see an art deco exposition in Vancouver and find a good seafood restaurant, then perhaps do some shopping in the scenic city. 

"There are so many things to see in the world," Collin said. 

Collin's appetite for the finer things — food, drink and fashion, among others — have made him a hit with the SKC organization, which showcases Collin via entertaining videos in which the personable Frenchman dispenses advice a la Dear Abby. But on camera with a tan, a suit coat and stunner shades. 

He came to Kansas City on a trial in 2011 thanks to some connections the SKC staff had in Europe, and a DVD of his play that led coach Peter Vermes to go to Portugal to see Collin up close and personal. He was signed a year ago on April 15.

"Look, I knew before I came that the salary cap for every (MLS) team … was more or less the same," Collin said. He was also excited about the opening of Livestrong Sporting Park and the club's facilities. 

"At the end, MLS was more than what I was expecting, so I'm very happy," Collin said. 

Collin doesn't discriminate when it comes to hard hits. He drew a yellow card for a foul on his own countryman, Sebastien Le Toux, Wednesday night, and can be an opposing forward's nightmare.

On the flip side, he's a dream teammate. During a preseason game in Arizona against DC United, a DCU player uttered what Sporting's Roger Espinoza thought was a racist slur in Spanish. Espinoza screamed at the referee to call attention to it, and Collin, from the other end of the field, heard the commotion and immediately demanded to know whom the offender was.

"During the game you can be pissed off and everything, but saying those things is really a shame, especially in the world we live in," Collin said. "You can be upset about something, but racism is the worst thing in the world."

Collin wears No. 78 in honor of the postal code of his hometown, a northern Paris suburb. But his mind is on the continued success of Sporting KC, 6-0 before facing the Whitecaps.

"We have the same group as last year," Collin said. "We know each other much better than last year on the field and off the field. Because we know each other better… we play with more experience because playing together for a long time, you are more automatic."

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24 Responses to MLS Spotlight: Collin enjoying the Sporting (KC) life

  1. KC fan says:

    Early candidate for All Star starter and possibly Defender of the Year if he can keep up his current form through the season. Dude is an animal on the field and a character off it. The fans love him.

  2. Mike in Missouri says:

    I just hope he sticks around for the next 7 or 8 years.

  3. Ben says:

    MLS needs more guys like this and fewer guys like Marquez, and I’m an NYRB fan.

  4. Sean says:

    I hope his success will bring more European talent to MLS.

  5. M Vann says:

    Collin epitomizes everything this league is: rusty around the edges but a pure, dedicated individual that isn’t afraid of what others think. He has this confident yet controlled persona about himself that’s obviously infectious to his teammates. He bosses a backline like few others do in the league. Collin’s been a pleasant surprise to many and he’s in the prime of his career. The league needs more players with Collin’s characteristics on and off the pitch. He’s the “Most Interesting Man” in the league bar none.

  6. eman says:

    haha he’s a bloody hunk

  7. Air Jordanz says:

    Was hard to like the guy at first blush, especially when the first time I saw him play he drew 2 RCs against my Dynamo. That said, we got our revenge in the Eastern Conf. Finals.

    Moving on, I agree. He seems like a pretty cool character and has been the core of the SKC defense so far this year.

  8. BSU SC says:

    A true renaissance man. He reminds me of…well, me.

  9. Ski Fast! says:

    Having European players like Collin is something this league can use more of.

  10. MLS says:

    It’d be great if it did.

  11. RB says:

    LOL.

    Double standard much?

    Change his location to the mountains and his jersey to burgundy and he’d suddenly be a thug and the perfect example of what everybody wants to get rid of in this league.

  12. KC Gunner says:

    RB – this is a no whining zone.

    No one ever bemoans a committed, physical CB, if they play clean. Playing that style will always earn you a few YCs. But you can usually tell by the respect a player gets from fellow players if they think he’s dirty or not. Guys like Mullan (not a CB, I know) get the dirty label because they break a guy’s leg and then say they learned nothing and would do it again (even if he has walked that back a bit since then). This isn’t a double-standard, and for evidence all you have to do is look at the universal respect for Olave. That guy is every bit the physical, fearless beast that Collin is and his YC count is similar too. But everyone respects him because he plays clean. There’s no bias or double-standard due to Collin’s engaging personality. Just some whining from a Colorado fan who can’t admit his team’s backline is full of less-talented, less-savory characters like Moor, Marshall, & Wynne who’ve earned their bad reps.

  13. RB says:

    Sorry but not whining, just looking at reality. From your comments re the Colorado back line, it’s evident you’re not. You even have trouble distinguishing them from Mullan, or a single incident from overall trends.

    And just btw, I’m KC born and raised.

  14. ericJ says:

    Right, Mullan has been a dirty player most of his career. What’s your point?

  15. RB says:

    Not according to Zakuani’s coach, and Mullan’s former coach, even after that terrible tackle took place.

    Again, it’s just reality, folks. You can shoot the messenger, if you like, but the double standard is pretty obvious and consistent once you start looking at it. The man mentions “a few YCs” about the player who was in fact the MLS league leader in the category last year, just for an immediate example.

    And it’s hardly an occasion thing but rather a very consistent trend. Just a week or two ago an RSL fan on a similar tack tried to claim that his team had more FCs only by virtue of having played more games this season. He didn’t respond when I asked how that might explain them having finished 3rd in FCs in the entire league last season. (SKC close behind at 5th, for example, but Colorado by contrast being 17th out of just 18 teams in the league at the time.) Did they play more games last season than 15 other teams, perhaps?

    The mismatch between the commentary and the reality when it comes to the Rapids in this regard was even written up last year in a _Seattle_ blog. Fans of supposedly pretty play teams like RSL, SKC & SSFC (right between the above 2 at 4th in FCs last year, btw) just don’t like to try to reconcile that image they have with the hard data.

    (Some consolation for Sporting fans: RSL & SEA did beat out SKC in foul differential last year, at least, finishing 4th & 5th in the league as compared to SKC’s 9th. The Rapids, again, were 17th out of 18, having been outfouled over the course of the entire season more than any other team except Portland.)

  16. Seriously says:

    Fouls and yellow cards do not denote thugish play. You are not living in reality, you are crying because nobody likes your team.

    You can be a complete thug and get away with nearly everything like (and you will love this) Conor Casey. That is the most brutish forward in the league and a disgrace to the USMNT uniform whenver it is on his back, yet he doesn’t have the rep of a Marquez.

    Your team is made up of players in the same style. It isn’t every other teams fault that your team is looked down upon because of it. When everyone singles out your team for something there is generally a reason.

  17. RB says:

    Yes, it’s called “scapegoating”, and it has long been used around the world for its noted psychological benefits to those who opt to start it, or those who just don’t lay attention to what’s going on or reality and let themselves be carried along with the CW and momentum and so forth.

    On the first point, however, note that I never claimed fouls or YCs indicate thuggish play. _Quite consistent fouls and YCs for this or that player or team over the course of an entire season_, however, do contradict pretty play, non-thug imagery, though. Just as the striking lack of them for this or that player or team over the course of an entire season contradicts thug criticism.

  18. Dank says:

    Unrelated, but Onyewu was back in uniform, if not starting, today in the win agaisnt Athletic Bilbao

  19. Dimidri says:

    What’s the local media coverage of SKC like? Bill Riley mentioned on ESPN Radio Salt Lake that you can’t go anywhere without seeing SKC merchandise in Salt Lake. KC Star seems to have above average coverage.

  20. Tim says:

    Too bad RSL never gets show on national TV

  21. Mikhail says:

    …says the tea-bagger

  22. Fairly says:

    Change his home country to Mexico is all you have to do

  23. John says:

    The Disciplinary Committee’s power are too broad and it is being overused. It should only be able to give out suspensions/fines for infractions the actual game ref spotted and issued a card for. In society, you don’t expect to be convicted of a crime without being caught and charged by police. If the police aren’t catching the crimes, improve the police department. You can’t possibly implement this system fairly. Players aren’t going to want to come play in this league. Fans, eventually, are not going to want to watch the league. You are messing with the very competitive balance of the game. This will quickly make MLS look like the USSR of soccer leagues.

  24. joe says:

    May be in can apply to be on Dancing With Stars next time arround