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Sporting Kansas City's Aurelien Collin savors road trips, opportunities to visit America's great cities

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sure, Aurélien Collin is looking forward to taking the pitch for Sporting Kansas City, looking to pick up away points against MLS' most star-laden clubs.

“It's always fun to talk to myself and say, 'I'm going to New York. I'm going to LA,'” Collin said during a recent club news conference. “Even if you get tired, it's a chance to say, 'I'm playing in New York. I'm playing against these big players. And then playing in Los Angeles, it's a blessing. for me.”

But that's only one reason the All-Star and 2012 Best XI defender has been looking forward to this week's transcontinental road swing, which begins Wednesday night against the New York Red Bulls (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live) and wraps up on Saturday against the LA Galaxy (10:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).

READ: Hey Zeus! Sporting KC and the pressure of replacing US Soccer's best-ever player

For the fun- and fashion-loving Frenchman, the trip also offers him a chance to spend time in two of his favorite American cities – besides Kansas City, of course.

“I love them both,” said Collin, who grew up hoping to come to America. “New York is more my city. In some ways it looks a lot like Paris. Los Angeles is very different. But I need both. I love LA. I love going to fashion shows, exhibitions, shopping.”

Being a tourist is about more than sightseeing, Collin said. It's a way to help him prepare mentally for a match.

“Everyone has a different way of preparation,” he said. “Mine is to be easy, to get out and walk around and visit things. That way is always working for me.”

READ: Thierry Henry: Sporting KC have the best central defensive tandem in MLS

For a player from Europe, where away days are more jaunt than journey, the sheer distance involved in an MLS road swing can make for a difficult adjustment. It hasn't seemed to bother the travel-loving Collin, who bounced around leagues on his native continent before coming to Kansas City.

“Even when I had to take a plane, it was two hours, an hour and a half,” he said. “So it is big travel here, but I'm used to traveling from France to America, so it's no big deal.”

And with no disrespect intended to countryman Thierry Henry and his Red Bulls teammates, neither is taking on the Red Bulls.

“New York is a big team, but we are not scared of anybody,” Collin said. “We prepare the same way every time, no matter who the strikers are. It's going to be a big challenge, but it's going to be a regular game of the league.”

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.