Aurelien Collin got a shot at redemption – and buried it in the back of the net.
Four days after an off-target square pass and a missed clearance on the resulting throw-in led to Djimi Traore's stoppage-time stunner in a 1-0 home loss to the Seattle Sounders, Collin played the hero at both ends of the pitch in Sporting Kansas City's historic 1-0 away victory over the Houston Dynamo on Sunday night.
“Thank God,” the All-Star and 2012 Best XI center back told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the match. “This time, the ball went in the right goal. I'm blessed. I'm very happy.”
Collin had good reason to be elated with the result and his role in it. Not only did he deliver the game-winning header in the 73rd minute, off a long throw-in from Seth Sinovic, but he also punctuated a solid defensive game with a spectacular slide tackle on Andrew Driver and a clearance away from Will Bruin to defuse a late breakaway.
It was an especially gutsy play given that the Frenchman was already carrying a yellow card, which will cause him to miss Sunday's match at D.C. United with caution accumulation – along with defensive midfielder Uri Rosell, who also picked up his fifth caution of the year on Sunday.
“When he's locked into the game, and he's calm and collected, that's the way he can play,” manager Peter Vermes said later during the same call. “It was excellent.”
Ike Opara, who started at the other center back spot for a third straight match with 2012 Defender of the Year Matt Besler sidelined with an MCL tweak, also earned Vermes' praise for his work in preserving Sporting's league-leading seventh cleansheet.
“He was an absolute monster in the game. Monster in the game,” Vermes said. “He was tremendous. He was great on every aerial duel. He was fantastic in 1-v-1 situations. The kid was absolutely locked in.”
While he was glad to play such a big part in snapping Houston's MLS-record 30-match unbeaten streak, which had reached 36 games across all competitions, Collin said he had already put Wednesday's gaffe behind him well before Sunday night.
“I was very upset about it, but it's something that happens,” he said. “Since I'm the back, I'm the last defender, and if I do a mistake, a guy can score. That's what happened last game. I just have to not focus on it, make sure I don't make the same mistake again.”
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- Peter Vermes