MLS great Aurélien Collin retires after remarkable career

Aurelien Collin

Longtime MLS center back Aurelien Collin announced his retirement as a player on Thursday through a statement from former club Sporting Kansas City.

The 36-year-old spent 11 seasons in total plying his trade for an MLS team. The first four of those came in Kansas City, where the French-born central defender played in 107 regular-season matches (starting 103), helping SKC to their second and most-recent MLS Cup title in 2013.

In the process, Collin earned MLS Best XI honors in 2012 and was a three-time All-Star (2012, '13, '14). He also scored 11 of his 16 career professional goals for SKC. Sporting were Audi MLS Cup Playoff qualifiers in all four years with Collin at center back and won the Western Conference regular-season crown in 2011 and 2012.

“Kansas City was my first love and when I arrived at Sporting KC, everybody in the city embraced me,” Collin said in a release. “Playing in front of the Cauldron for four years was an amazing opportunity because every game in that stadium felt like a final. Winning the MLS Cup in 2013 is the best moment of my career and something that the city and our fans deserved so much. I also had unbelievable experiences playing in Orlando, New York and Philadelphia. Words can’t describe how grateful I am for the last 11 years.”

From SKC, Collin moved on for one-plus season with Orlando City SC as they began life as an MLS expansion side, two-plus with the New York Red Bulls, and then his final three with the Philadelphia Union.

Collin primarily served as a player mentor in that final stop. But after going two seasons without making a regular-season appearance, he was forced into a valiant 90-minute effort in the 2021 Eastern Conference final against New York City FC due to Philly missing 11 players because of MLS health and safety protocols.

The Frenchman concludes his career after 196 total MLS regular-season and postseason appearances.

"It was a pleasure to coach Aurelien because of his winning mentality and willingness to fight for everything," SKC manager Peter Vermes said in a statement. "He came to our club at the perfect time because we needed a destroyer on our backline, and I don't think we could have found a better fit. Aurelien always gave 100% and always delivered in big moments. He had a great competitiveness to win every time he stepped on the field and helped us achieve lots of success. We wish him the best of luck in the next chapter of his life."

Collin began his career with club stops in England, Scotland and Greece before playing two seasons with Portuguese Primeira Liga side Vitoria Setubal prior to his arrival in MLS.