KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Don’t expect to see a chaste and cautious Aurelien Collin on the pitch when Sporting Kansas City visits Chivas USA on Sunday (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
The French central defender, who shared the league lead in cautions (10) with David Beckham in 2011, is already carrying his first this year after a yellow-card foul last week against FC Dallas. But Collin’s not worried about it, and neither is manager Peter Vermes.
“It happens sometimes from a defender, and I’m not really concerned about that stuff,” Vermes said earlier this week. “I just don’t want any of our guys getting yellow cards for dissent … but through tackles, I don’t care as long as it’s not something completely reckless, or you’re in a stupid place on the field where you go and make a foul you don’t need to. Then that’s just not using your brain, and we’ll have a discussion about it.”
WATCH: Collin opens scoring against FCD
Collin had to have several discussions of that nature early last season, but has since learned what he can and can’t get away with in MLS. So if he picks up another caution against Chivas, it’s a safe bet that he’ll do it with both eyes open – as he did against Dallas’ Blas Perez a week ago.
“When there is a good striker, a striker who likes to do contact, I need to do something to scare him,” Collin said. “I know I was late when I arrived, but it was a good [challenge]. I hit him with the head, and after that it was a little different.”
The Goats aren’t FC Dallas, though, and haven’t exactly been blazing away in opponents’ penalty areas this season. Their 24 shots are the second-fewest in the league, and they have just one goal in three games (although that did come in a 1-0 away upset last week on the road against Real Salt Lake).
Still, Sporting – the only team to be on nine points after three matches – isn’t expecting a walk in the park on Sunday.
“I’ve watched all three games,” Vermes said. “The first game they got scored on in the 90-some minute against Houston, [which] wasn’t indicative of what the game was. Although I thought Houston was the better team with more chances, they had some very good chances as well.
“I think actually they’re not only pretty organized, but they’re pretty aggressive in their play going forward and pretty aggressive in their defending,” Vermes added. “So it’s a major challenge for us to go out there with the way they’re playing right now, coming off that game and being pretty confident.”
But if Collin can shake up that confidence with a well-chosen hard tackle or two, he will – no matter what the discipline sheet says.
“Central defenders, we are players who are not scared to go into the contact,” he said.
It’s an enforcer’s mindset that Matt Besler, Collin’s partner in the central defense, said Sporting needs and feeds off of when it comes time to win the ball back.
“He’s really trying to work on not being overaggressive, and I think he’s showed it,” Besler told MLSsoccer.com. “But if there’s ever a point where he’s thinking about not getting a yellow card, he shouldn’t do that.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.