KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Aurélien Collin is back in his usual starting spot and looking both energized and motivated by his time out of it.
After a three-match string that saw Lawrence Olum get the nod at center back, Collin returned to the Sporting KC XI for a full-90 outing in Saturday's scoreless draw at New York.
“It was a big game against a big team – big strikers, [Tim] Cahill and Thierry Henry,” Collin told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday's training session. “I was very happy. It was the 'big fight' kind of game that I like.”
During Collin's absence from the starting lineup, which manager Peter Vermes has said was designed to give Olum additional match experience leading into the postseason, Sporting went 1-0-2 and conceded only one goal.
“Team wise, it's good that we have a lot of guys who can compete for a lot of positions,” Vermes said on Monday. “That helps, not only in getting everybody ready but in making our team better.”
Collin, who made only one appearance off the bench during his absence from the starting lineup, earned good marks for his play – especially in the second half – against the Red Bulls.
“There were a lot of different situations in the second half,” Vermes said. “He was good at what he does best, that being aerial duels and one-on-one situations. I thought he was very good at those.'
Collin's training sessions with Sporting in the days leading up to the Red Bulls match were marked by energetic, physical, even borderline chippy play from the MLS All-Star in intrasquad action.
“I love being out on the field during a game,” Collin said. “I want to be out there fighting, doing everything I can not to give up a goal.”
That's just the kind of fire Vermes likes to see from the popular Frenchman heading into Wednesday's season finale against Philadelphia (8:30 pm ET; NBCSN, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com), after which Sporting hope they will be the top seed in the East playoffs.
“Any guy who's a competitor is going to be that way,” Vermes said. “He's done a good job, and we'll see how he continues on here.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.