KANSAS CITY, Kan. – It wasn't a flashy moment – not like his last-ditch stop of Marco Di Vaio's shot, nor the celebration of his own left-footed attempt that bent just inside Troy Perkins' left post.
But with his simple decision to take himself out of Sporting Kansas City's 4-0 win over Montreal on Saturday, when he felt tightness in his hamstring 15 minutes from time, Aurelien Collin showed how far he's come since joining the club in 2011.
“I'm a wiser man,” Collin told reporters aferward. “A few years ago, I was pretty crazy. I would have finished the game. But we were winning 3-0, we have an important game next week. With 10, 15 minutes left in the game, I was OK to go out and be safe for the next game. I think I'll be OK.”
Manager Peter Vermes said Collin – who played with cracked vertebrae in 2011 and with fractured facial bones a year later – made the right call.
“He felt a little twinge in his hamstring, and normally guys will try and go a little bit longer, but he made the right decision coming out and not making it worse,” Vermes said during his postmatch news conference. “Hopefully it'll just be a bit of a strain and he'll take a few days and recover.”
Collin hasn't lost his flair for the dramatic, though.
He still likes to come up with the big defensive play, as he did when he stayed home on a counterattack and blocked Di Vaio's wide-open shot in the center of goal after a cross from Felipe.
“I was lucky,” Collin said. “He could have scored. He had the whole goal open, and I tried to stay on my feet. Thank God I stopped the ball.”
Collin still likes to tear up the pitch and get into the attack, too, both in the air and on the ground – as he did with his 71st-minute goal, off an assist from Lawrence Olum, that put Sporting up 2-0 against the Impact.
Three minutes after that, he showed his newfound restraint when he made a dummy run over the top of Jacob Peterson's long pass from the right wing. The ball went on to Dom Dwyer, who buried it from the top of the 6-yard box for the first of his two goals on the night.
“I know how to manage my craziness, because sometimes you have to be crazy,” Collin said. “Honestly, this year, I'm pretty satisfied with my performance in this aspect – to be crazy when I need to be crazy, to be relaxed and wise when I have to be calm.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.