The fans in Houston were not happy with Sporting Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin on Saturday, and really, why would they be?
Collin, after all, was the man who drew two red-card penalties and put their team’s one-goal lead in danger. But if the boos that rained down upon Collin at Robertson Stadium throughout the second half indicated displeasure, it’s safe to say his goal in the 90th minute — which delivered Sporting KC a crucial 1-1 road draw — was enough to make the fans downright hate the mercurial defender.
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“I understand it,” said a jubilant Collin, who taunted the fans after the goal by holding his hand to his ear. “Their team got two red cards because of me, so they weren’t happy. No disrespect.”
But there was plenty of reason for Collin and his teammates to savor the moment, and not just because they improved to 5-6-8 and extended their Major League Soccer unbeaten streak to 11 games.
No. After experiencing its own red-card woes earlier this season — when it lost four of its first six games and drew questionable red cards in three of the losses — the fact that Sporting was finally the beneficiary of a referee’s whistle was pretty satisfying, too.
“I love the fact we kept our composure and didn’t get sucked into us getting a red card, too,” said Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes.
And they had their chances, particularly after Houston, 5-6-9, took a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute off a free kick goal by Brad Davis. Collin drew a red card on Houston’s Colin Clark in the 51st minute for a bad foul, only Collin says he got swiped twice more by Houston players afterward.
“The first tackle he destroyed me, and the second one they shot my legs (from under me),” Collin said.
“They did it to me three times, and to me, they deserved the red cards. I was calm the whole game while they lost their minds.”
The second went unseen, but when Houston’s Brian Ching got him the third time as they battling for the ball near the sideline, the referee sent Ching off in the 70th minute to give Sporting — which trailed 1-0 but had otherwise been dominating the game — a two-man advantage and more than 20 minutes to get the equalizer.
Still, Houston didn’t make it easy, as goalkeeper Tally Hall practically stood on his head most the majority of the half. From the 70th minute to the 89th minute, Sporting racked up nine shots – two on target – only to come up empty each time.
But then Collin — who was booed every time he touched the ball, at that point — got his revenge when he received a pass from defender Roger Espinosa (who had just taken a throw in) and unleashed a low, hard shot from roughly 25 yards away that flew past Hall and tied the game at 1-1.
“That was an opportunistic goal, a great deflection into the net,” Vermes said. “We deserved that goal. We were all over them.”
That’s stats bear it out, as Sporting racked up 24 shots (eight on goal) to Houston’s six (two on goal). That’s only part of the reason one could argue Sporting — which now plays nine straight games and 12 of its 15 at home — should have come away with more than a draw.
“For the amount of chances we created in the second half, yeah, we should have come away with more,” Vermes said. “I think we should have come away with three. But this is a very difficult place to play, so this is a good result.”