Grella Makes A Triumphant Return In Columbus

Grella, MLS, Columbus Crew
Glen Cove native Mike Grella. Photo via MLSSoccer.

It’s been a long road to recovery for Long Island native Mike Grella, who has spent the past 17 months recuperating and rehabbing from left knee surgery.

But the Glen Cove native’s return to the pitch was one typically reserved for Hollywood. On Saturday, Grella scored the game-winning goal in the 84th minute to give the Columbus Crew a 2-1 home victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.

The April 28 match at MAPFRE Stadium was Grella’s Crew debut. Since he last appeared in a match with the New York Red Bulls, he was selected by the Colorado Rapids in the 2017 Re-Entry Draft and was immediately traded to Columbus.

“When I crossed the line to get into the game, I knew that I had already accomplished something really big,” Grella told ColumbusCrewSC.com. “Why not try to get something else, a goal or something? It was a dream return. I’m so blessed.”

With the game against San Jose tied at 1, Columbus Head Coach Gregg Berhalter in the 65th minute had Grella enter the match for Niko Hansen.

“When you have a 31-year-old who’s been around the block,” Berhalter told ColumbusCrewSC.com. “You trust what they say (about being ready), and he said he was ready so I trusted him.”

While this season is his first with Columbus, it is his fourth overall in Major League Soccer. He spent the previous three seasons with the Red Bulls where he made 74 appearances with 16 goals and 13 assists.