ORLANDO, Fla.- There’s no sugar-coating it for Orlando City: There’s a significant risk that the trade of Aurélien Collin will come back to haunt them immediately when the New York Red Bulls visit Camping World Stadium on Friday night (7pm ET, UniMás).
The French center back returns to Orlando little more than a week after his move north, and the Lions' front office may collectively hold its breath after agreeing to the trade. Their club have scored 11 goals in the last five games yet have picked up just five points in the standings (1-2-2), so Orlando can ill afford to help opposing defenses at the expense of their own, and any playing time Collin might see is sure to be a major talking point.
The club are fully aware the much-traveled 30-year-old still has plenty to offer, but the bottom line is that the trade was made for the long-term plan – even if there is a short-term price to pay.
“Nobody knows better than I do how good he can be in both penalty boxes,” head coach Adrian Heath admitted after training on Wednesday. “Knowing how these things can work out, there’s obviously the feeling he could come back and get something for them. We’re aware of that.
“But it was a move we needed to make, at a time we needed to make it, and it might not have been there if we had waited any longer. Yes, it is a conference rival, but sometimes you can’t pick and choose.”
Collin had become the odd man out in Orlando’s back line, sidelined by the burgeoning form of 19-year-old Tommy Redding, the reliability of Seb Hines, the veteran touch of David Mateos and in the background, the promise of Conor Donovan and Devron García.
With Collin’s salary among the top three on the Orlando roster and his playing time declining, the front office was left to make a difficult decision. By moving a player too expensive to have sitting on the bench. City freed up both salary-cap space and an international roster spot with the move.
There is no immediate word on how the club will take advantage of the situation, but Orlando have already indicated they intend to be active in the summer transfer window, and they will now have more freedom to act on opportunities that arise.
“Obviously, we didn’t know Tommy was going to come through the way he has done this year,” Heath explained. “Then Aurélien came to me to talk about the fact he wasn’t playing, and I understand that. You get to the stage in your career where it’s no good just sitting and watching, and it was the last year of his deal, so something needed to happen.”
The head coach praised the defender’s demeanor throughout the process and his 18 months at the club, big reasons why club personnel have only goodwill toward Collin.
“If everybody could be as professional as Aurélien, there would be no problems for coaches in professional football,” Heath said. “He has been unbelievably positive working with our younger guys, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
After Friday night, that is.