Ex-Leeds striker Mike Grella makes history with the New York Red Bulls

Statue Of Liberty

The well-traveled forward grabbed the MLS club's 1,000th goal in the weekend's 2-1 win at the Columbus Crew.

The New York Red Bulls continued their unbeaten start to the 2015 season on the weekend with a 2-1 win at the Columbus Crew but they needed some help from substitute Mike Grella.

The former Leeds United forward grabbed his first-ever MLS goal just second after coming on in the 67th-minute with a chipped effort over goalkeeper Steve Clark, putting the visitors back in front and sending them on course to three points.

It was a historic strike for the Red Bulls, too – their 1,000th as a club – and the New York-native was delighted to have become a part of the record books with his hometown team.

“It feels great! Coming on and helping the team is all I really wanted to do,” he told the club’s official website after the match.

“It’s the 1,000th goal for the club so it’s nice to be a part of history, as well as get a goal for myself.

On his decision to chip the keeper from outside the area, Grella added: “I just thought it was the right thing to do – it was instinct. I think it was my first touch of the game, if not the second, so it was great.”

Grella, 28, signed for the Red Bulls ahead of the 2015 season following a successful preseason trial, having spent last season in the US second-tier with NASL’s Carolina RailHawks.

This campaign is his first in MLS, having turned down the chance to enter the 2009 SuperDraft after finishing his college career at Duke in order to explore European opportunities, before later finding a home in England with Leeds.

His time across the Atlantic might not have gone to plan in the end but, with the Red Bulls bidding to make up for the offseason departures of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, head coach Jesse Marsch believes the former US Under-20 international will prove a crucial contributor over the coming months.

“I’ll be honest with you. We almost didn’t bring him in, because I’d heard mixed things, and one of my jokes with the staff was I’m waiting for him to make a bad play, because he’s been so good, in training, in games,’’ said Marsch. “He’s started scoring goals right from the beginning.

“He’s been such a pleasant surprise in a lot of ways. He’s been sharp, he’s scoring goals and he can play anywhere in the top four.”

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