[MLS CUP 2013]Could Aurelien Collin's MVP evening be his last in MLS? Before Sporting Kansas City's shootout win over Real Salt Lake, the French defender, who scored the tying goal in regulation and the decisive penalty kick -- as the 10th and final field player -- was quoted as saying he is looking to return to Europe.
"I hope to move during the winter market," the French sports daily L'Equipe quoted the 27-tear-old as saying in its Saturday print edition. "I'm not going to leave for just anyone, but if I came to the United States, it was to come back at the top level in Europe."
This is the second time Collin has been quoted as saying he wants to move. After previously sayingin France Football's online edition in November he was interested in returning to Europe, he claimed U.S. reports had badly translated his remarks -- though there was nothing mistranslated. He later told MLSSoccer.com he wanted to stay in Kansas City if the SKC owners and coaches wanted him back.
If he leaves -- he has one year left on his contract -- Collin says he owes everything to Sporting Kansas City.
“They showed me something I never had in Europe," he said. "I would be working hard and have the best training facilities."
Collin bounced around clubs in France, Spain, Scotland, Greece, Wales and Portugal before finally find a home in Kansas City, where he has launched a successful fashion company -- CR78 (78 being his playing number for the number of the French department -- Yvelines -- from where he hails).
"For the first time in my life," he said after the final, "I had the best facilities, the best environment, the best infrastructure. I know I am a better player now than I was three years ago. I know that if I stay here, I will be a better player in three years than I am now. I wasn’t expecting all of this, but I feel very blessed and happy to be a part of it.”
His equalizing goal was his third goal of the playoffs, matching his regular-season totals in each of his three seasons with Sporting KC.
“The second half was pretty hard for me because I had a small kick in the head," he said. "I couldn’t see that well, so that’s why I scored. I was very lucky that [Graham] Zusi put the ball exactly where I wanted it. I put my head up and it went through, so I’m happy. I don’t know what I was thinking when I scored -- I’m just happy I scored.”
Collin, who led MLS with 13 yellow cards in the regular season, was perhaps lucky to still on the field to display his late-game heroics. He picked up a yellow card in the first half and could have been carded again right before his tying goal.
In the shootout, Collin's penalty kick put SKC up 7-6 in the 10th round and proved decisive when Lovel Palmer's shot for RSL hit the crossbar.
“That was the best penalty he’s hit since he’s been with us, even in training," SKC manager Peter Vermes said. "That was an unbelievable penalty kick. He saved it for the right time.”
Collin summed up his impression of the final with a very European expression: "complicated."
“We had a lot of opportunities and they did also," he said. "When we were one goal down, we kept our composure and tried even harder. We kept playing good soccer and tried to move forward. We were patient with the ball and had a lot of opportunities. I feel very happy that in the end we won that game. Over the whole season, we deserve it.”
Dec. 7 in Kansas City, Kan.
Sporting KC 1 Real Salt Lake 1.Goals: Collin (Zusi) 76; Saborio (Beckerman) 52.
Sporting KC --Nielsen; Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic; Rosell (Olum 8), Feilhaber, Nagamura; Zusi, Dwyer (Bieler 72), Sapong.
Real Salt Lake --Rimando, Beltran, Schuler, Borchers, Wingert (Palmer 72), Beckerman, Grabavoy, Gil (Velasquez 87), Morales, Findley (Plata 112), Saborio.
Yellow Cards:Sporting KC -- Collin 35, Feilhaber 104; Real Salt Lake -- Wingert 24, Saborio 44, Beckerman 100.
Referee: Hilario Grajeda.
(Sporting KC wins 7-6 in a shootout.)
Shootout (10 rounds):
SKC – Bieler – Goal
RSL – Saborio – Miss
SKC – Nagamura – Goal
RSL – Grabavoy – Save
SKC – Besler – Save
RSL – Beckerman – Goal
SKC – Feilhaber – Goal
RSL – Plata – Goal
SKC – Zusi – Miss
RSL – Morales – Goal
SKC – Sinovic – Goal
RSL – Schuler – Goal
SKC – Sapong – Goal
RSL – Beltran – Goal
SKC – Olum – Miss
RSL – Velasquez – Save
SKC – Myers – Goal
RSL – Borchers – Goal
SKC – Collin – Goal
RSL – Palmer – Miss