KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Even the simplest tasks, like putting on socks or just getting out of bed, are literally out of Aurélien Collin’s reach for the time being.
It’s been nearly a week since the French center back took a knee to the back against Toronto FC, and it will be at least a month more before he sees the field again for Sporting Kansas City.
Kansas City announced Thursday that Collin would miss up to six weeks with what was diagnosed as a non-displaced fracture of the transverse process of both the L2 and L3 vertebrae. Essentially, Collin has a stress fracture in his lower back that, while extremely painful, should heal without surgery.
“The first five days were hard because I wasn’t able to do much,” Collin said Friday, grimacing with every little movement. “I try to be careful of any motion I do to try to recover as fast as I can. It’s all about that.”
He said he is on a strict regimen of rest for the next few weeks with acupuncture and icing mixed in to help reduce swelling and increase range of motion. Meanwhile, Collin’s teammates are preparing for an extended stretch without the player who transitioned seamlessly into the back line next to Matt Besler, starting 15 games and scoring three goals since his arrival in April.
And although manager Peter Vermes certainly has options in Collin’s absence, he is understandably disappointed to lose the rugged defender during a critical stretch of the season.
“I’m not happy about it,” Vermes said. “He’s obviously been an integral part of how we’ve been building and moving forward. Do we lose a strong player within our team? Sure.”
Fortunately, Kansas City bolstered their depth in central defense in recent weeks by signing Daneil Cyrus on loan and have experienced players ready to step into the hole Collin’s injury leaves.
Veteran Júlio César played alongside Besler in Philadelphia when Collin was suspended for yellow-card accumulation and is the most likely replacement, meaning Vermes would have to fill his current spot at defensive midfield. He could also choose to keep Júlio César in the midfield and play either Cyrus or Shavar Thomas alongside Besler.
No matter who starts against the Revolution on Saturday (8:30 pm ET; watch LIVE online), Vermes said he planned to take things game by game, using whatever lineup matched up better against each week’s opponent. For his part, Besler said it didn’t matter much who lined up next to him.
“There is no preference,” Besler said. “Whoever is in there, I’m pretty comfortable with everyone’s style. I just think we’re going to simplify things. We’re not going to try to win the game from our position.”
Still, it’s a loss that threatens to disrupt Kansas City’s current success, which has been defined by a 12-game unbeaten streak marked by stingy defensive play led by the partnership of Collin and Besler.
And while Collin clearly isn’t thrilled to spend the next month-and-a-half watching from the sideline and nursing his aching back into form, he said he has faith that whoever fills in for him will keep the ball rolling.
“It’s sad,” Collin said, “but it’s part of the life of a football player. I accept it. I’ll deal with it. I’ll try to come back as fast as I can. I have a lot of trust in the other players, so I hope they can do their jobs and we can continue going the same way we were going.”