Ex-Leeds misfit Mike Grella impressing New York Red Bulls boss

Leeds United East Stand

New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch likes what he's seen from trialist Mike Grella so far.

Mike Grella is trialing with the New York Red Bulls this preseason in a bid to win a roster spot for the coming campaign, and head coach Jesse Marsch has told SBIsoccer.com that the former Leeds United striker is making a good case.

Grella, 28, spent last season with the Carolina RailHawks in NASL after returning to the States from Europe and, after showing some solid form, is hoping to make the jump up from the US second-tier.

The New York-native has demonstrated an impressive nose for goal in camp so far and, with 2014 Golden Boot-winner Bradley Wright-Phillips the only other forward at their disposal following Thierry Henry’s recent departure, Marsch thinks he could be of use to the club.

“His mentality of being here and working every day has been fantastic and then he’s been scoring goals. That’s the best way to describe it,” the former US international said.

“He’s been sharp and alert and fit and a lot of different things, but in the end, as a forward, the byproduct has all been that he’s scoring goals.

“That’s a good sign for him and I think he’s made an impression on a lot of people, not just me, and I think he’s done well.”

One of the college game’s top prospects at Duke after netting 41 goals in four seasons between 2005 and 2008, Grella shunned the chance to start his pro career in MLS in 2009 in favour of exploring European opportunities through his Italian passport.

Soon joining Leeds following a successful trial, he would show clear flashes of potential during his first 18 months at the club, but later found himself loaned out to Carlisle United and Swindon Town during the 2010-11 campaign after failing to crack the line-up.

Released in August 2011 after five goals in 40 total appearances, indifferent spells with Brentford, Bury, Scunthorpe United and Danish outfit Viborg FF followed, before he opted to head back across the Atlantic last April.

Now attempting to catch on with his hometown club, Marsch is hoping that a familiar environment can help Grella unlock the potential which once had the US soccer scene hailing him as a future star of the national team.

“Mike has flexibility. He can play up top, he can play out wide,” he added. “For right now, I think he’s been a very pleasant surprise.”

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