Mike Grella was a surprise scratch from the squad the New York Red Bulls named to play Real Salt Lake - a surprise mostly because his absence was announced minutes before the starting lineup and fans were told to expect him to be out for several weeks.
Typically, an injury which has already been diagnosed as requiring a long spell on the sidelines is revealed well before game day, but the Red Bulls do seem to enjoy keeping opponents guessing: the Grella announcement was the second consecutive week RBNY had announced a key player would be missing from the squad at the eleventh hour, after having given the impression the player would be participating in the match (Kemar Lawrence missed the team's game in Seattle, as revealed shortly before starting lineups were announced on that occasion too).
Grella's long spell on the sidelines has been attributed to continuing issues with a bothersome knee that was operated on in pre-season. At Red Bulls Media Day, the player told MSG Networks he was still experiencing pain. Though he appeared in all five of RBNY's competitive games prior to being parked for the RSL match, he'd also only logged 111 total minutes in those appearances and no starts. And now it is advised he'll be out for a month or so while receiving further treatment on his knee.
After Red Bulls' training on Tuesday, March 28, Jesse Marsch told reporters a little more about Grella's situation:
It stems all the way back to the playoff series against Montreal. At the end of the season, he felt a little something weird in his knee. They were hoping that going into the off-season, that some rest would help everything calm down. MRIs didn't show anything that big, maybe a bone bruise. And now the more that it has been investigated, they think it might be a little defect on the end of his femur.
So, with that being said, they're just trying some treatments to see if they can get all the soreness and swelling to calm down - and hopeful that in a month he'll be stronger and he won't have such sensitivity to pain there.
We'll see. We're all hopeful that's going to work out.
Per Marsch's words, Grella's knee issue stretches back to at least November and he is now undergoing what would seem to be the third effort to resolve it after the initial approach didn't work out (the first being rest in the off-season, followed by his February surgery, and now the current round of treatments).
Clearly, a frustrating situation for Grella, who can only hope - in common with RBNY - that the latest therapy provides the desired outcome.
Get well soon, Mike.