This job continues to get harder and harder for me covering this team, but just like any professional sports team that decides to say goodbye to a player that the fans and media loves. That man who you enjoy to have a conversation as well as having a laugh is Glen Cove’s own Mike Grella.
After spending time over in England playing for clubs like Leeds United, Brentford, Bury, Scunthorpe United with loan spells at Carlisle United and Swindon Town between 2009 thru 2013 he tried a spell at Danish club Viborg FF till he came back to the States in 2014 and played with North Carolina FC (Formerly the Carolina Railhawks).
He was given a trial with expansion side NYCFC in 2015 and never worked out till Jesse Marsch gave him a chance with the Red Bulls and since then it worked out big time as he was able to thrive in the midfield with Sacha Kljestan in the middle as well as Lloyd Sam on the right.
He scored the clubs historical 1,000th goal on the road at the Columbus Crew which was his first MLS Goal. A big game winner when he was able to take a deflected ball and when he saw Steve Clark off his line just enough he delivered a floating chip that skied over the keeper and splashed the back
Or what about the time that he scored the fastest MLS Goal inside the opening seconds after the whistle blew by blowing by the defenders and as he shot the ball towards goal it took a deflection and beat Philadelphia Union’s keeper Andre Blake towards the inside of the near post.
Or what about this big chip shot from Grelladinho taking on Benfica in the International Challenge Cup at Red Bull Arena as he goes top shelf to the far upper corner to beat the keeper.
But nothing beats the sweet smell of success or at least the breaking of ankles and legs when Mike Grella fakes out a NYCFC Defender to set up Bradley Wright-Phillips 1st goal in that historical 7-0 rout at Yankee Stadium back in 2016. So here’s the whole highlight package.
But what I enjoyed about Grella is that he is a family man and always involved his brother, wife, parents and two kids as he would take the PATH train to the Arena and then drive back to Long Island with his family.
In 73 games he scored 16 goals, but when he assisted on some of the goals scored by BWP and others, they were also spectacular. How he dribbled with the ball and faking out defenders were fantastic.
But the toughest thing to see was not seeing Grella on the field as he was sidelined with a leg muscle injury and put on injured reserve for the rest of the 2017 season after he set up the tying goal for Daniel Royer at Atlanta United.
As an Italian descent he would always stick up and defend Juventus and when they were in the final of the UEFA Champions League against Real Madrid last tournament, he decided to make a wager with every player on the roster and we all know why his wallet was lighter after that mistake.
But at the end of the day seeing this man being apart of the 2015 Supporters Shield winning side and making some wonderful moments till his selection in the re-entry draft to the Colorado Rapids and then traded to the Columbus Crew
It will be tough and difficult to see him in all yellow and black next season, but it was a pleasure and an honor to talk to Grella and covering him during the three years he was on the club. I will miss you Grelladinho and I wish you good luck at the capital of Ohio.