Aurelien Collin packed the belongings from his locker into a clear plastic trash bag on Sunday, three days after the Sporting Kansas City season came to a sooner-than-expected end in New York.
Before he exited the club’s training facility, Collin mapped out his offseason plans — a trip to Venezuela to spend time with his wife, a vacation with his family in France.
His plans for the 2015 season are much less clear.
Collin is set to become a free agent this offseason, and there has been no movement toward a new contract with Sporting KC over the past few months, he said.
Asked if he expected to be back with the team next season, Collin responded first with a shrug of his shoulders.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Right now, there is nothing. Not even a conversation.”
Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman classified discussions as a stalemate in September, and it appears that hasn’t changed.
Sporting KC offered Collin multiple deals over the course of the season, but they didn’t meet Collin’s asking price. He is believed to be seeking a raise on the $275,000 he made in 2014.
“He’s already been offered a couple of contracts, so at this point, I don’t know what will happen,” said Peter Vermes, the coach and technical director. “That conversation has already taken place. It stopped because it’s now his decision. I can’t tell you where it’s going to go.”
Sporting KC has at least one key factor working in its favor during any future negotiations.
Its latest offer to Collin qualifies as what the MLS and its players union call a “bona fide offer,” Vermes said, meaning the 2015-club proposed salary at least meets the 2014 figure.
That guarantees Sporting KC will retain the rights to Collin if he elects to stay in the MLS. In other words, Collin will not be eligible to sign with another MLS team. He would essentially chose to either sign the contract proposed by Sporting KC or move on to another league.
There is one more option, of course: A trade. If Collin finds another landing spot within the MLS, Sporting KC could trade his rights to that club.
All possibilities remain in play.
“I believe in God, and wherever God takes me, I’ll be happy,” Collin said.
Collin has been in the league for four years — he joined Sporting KC prior to the 2011 season — which is why he falls under the bona fide offer rule. He will turn 29 in March.
Those four seasons included mostly consistent performances from Collin, who has started 103 regular season matches, but he came under fire for his play down the stretch this season. After Sporting KC allowed three goals in back-to-back home losses to D.C. United and Houston in late August, Vermes vocalized his displeasure with the back line’s performances. He benched Collin for the following game in New England.
Collin called 2014 a “rough season” for the club and “at times for me, too.”
But when at his best, he is still considered a vital part of a defensive group that allowed the fewest goals in the league in 2012 and 2013. His game-tying header in the MLS Cup Final against Real Salt Lake — and his game-winning penalty strike in the same match — remain two of the club’s premier highlights over the past decade.
“I like it here with Sporting KC,” Collin said. “I’m going to see what’s going to come and make the best decision possible for me. I haven’t talked with Sporting KC, but I’m sure Sporting KC wants to talk with my agent very soon. We’ll see what happens.”
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