Mike Grella is a finalist for MLS Newcomer of the year. Congratulations! Now those names up there seem pretty illustrious. But here's the thing by being nominated as a finalist, Grella has already beaten some crazy odds. See for yourself:
Here was the full list of nominees (not finalists) for MLS Newcomer Of The Year, which I saved off my ballot. pic.twitter.com/KVIXfeIJWP— Dan Dickinson (@GothamistDan) November 3, 2015
So I wouldn't count Mike Grella out quite yet. He's overcome more than a few big names in the last year. Mike Grella of the New York Red Bulls was almost never a thing. He could've just as easily been Mike Grella of the New York Cosmo or Mike Grella of NYCFC. Instead Mike Grella came to New York and earned not only a contract but also his starting spot while the boys were in preseason at camp. Grella has defied everyone's expectations. In fact Mike Grella was almost out of soccer.
Thankfully for the Red Bull's he did not retire, instead he's had a huge impact. Let's look at some of Grella's highlights on the year. He has started all but 4 games and has played in all but 1. He has 9 goals and 7 assists. Not only that but he's also had some pretty nice highlights this year.
He's nutmegged Frank Lampard:
He has the fastest goal in MLS History:
He scored the Red Bull's 1000th Goal:
Yeah yeah yeah. I hear you, Grella didn't do the ungodly things that Giovinco did like win the Golden Boot. Nor did he put a team on his back and take them to their first playoff game like Drogba (11 g in 11 regular season games is pretty much the definition of putting the team on your back). But guess what? We expected these things. If Drogba and Giovinco didn't do those things we'd be calling them busts. There's not a lot new Giovinco and Drogba. They're established national teamers and European stalwarts. Now I get it, technically under the "criteria" (Best player with previous professional experience who made his MLS debut in 2015) they qualify.
But the true MLS Newcomer of the year should be Mike Grella. He truly burst onto the MLS scene when early on, people were calling for him to be benched. Instead he has sparked a dope nickname #Grelladinho, rocked a beard that Tom Hanks from Castaway would be jealous of, and also helped the team with one of the lowest payrolls win the MLS Supporters' Shield. Some people will say that Grella being a finalist is enough, that being nominated is an honor and he should step aside for the big names to take the award. And to those people this is what I say: Mike Grella represents everything that MLS and American soccer is and should be. If you want to continue giving awards to the biggest names and stars from Europe that's your prerogative. MLS is a league that is about grit, tenacity, and a surprising dash of ridiculous skill. Mike Grella is all those things. Mike Grella is American soccer at its best. If you think MLS is a retirement league or a place for European stars to take it easy, than yeah Drogba and Giovinco are good choices. But I'd like to think that MLS is more than that. That we should reward true newcomers to the MLS scene. That's why Mike Grella is my MLS Newcomer of the Year.
They'll announce the award November 28th. Good Luck Mike!