The 28-year-old scored his fourth MLS goal of the season in last night's 1-0 home victory over Real Salt Lake.
New York Red Bulls forward Mike Grella put in a man of the match performance on Wednesday night as he scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake.
The former Leeds United striker opened the scoring in just the fourth-minute at Red Bull Arena, tapping in midfielder Sean Davis’ pass following a Kemar Lawrence cross for his fourth MLS goal of the season.
The home side would fail to increase their lead from there but still impressed in snapping a four-game losing streak in the league, as Grella stood out as their most dangerous attacker in his role on the right wing.
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The in-form American, who turned down the chance to begin his professional career in MLS in 2009 in order to explore European opportunities, has been criticised in the past for failing to fulfil his potential, as well as his supposed poor attitude, but he has received nothing but plaudits since joining the Red Bulls.
Signing ahead of the 2015 campaign following a successful trial, the former US Under-20 international has scored five times in 15 total appearances so far and, while he has not quite managed to match the departed Thierry Henry's influence, his initial impact has still been a hugely pleasant surprise.
Speaking to the club’s official website after the win against Salt Lake, head coach Jesse Marsch was quick to praise the New York-native’s latest performance and also moved to call out his detractors.
“I spoke with Mike, maybe, a month ago, and there's been criticism about Mike, right? Publically, in the media,” said Marsch. “And I just said to him that first of all, within the team, he's established himself and the guys believe in him and having him on the field, everybody knows he's been a big piece for us.
“When you're in this business, especially in this day in age, people are going to say a lot of things. I learned that from day one being with this organization. But it's important to believe in yourself, have confidence in who you are and what you're about, and in tough moments don't let things phase you, don't be sidetracked by anything and be strong.
“I think he took that the right way and ran with it and the confidence that he's had over the last month has grown and grown and grown. Even in this tough moment for the team with results, I think that Mike has been one of the guys that's been reliable and has gotten better. So that's been good to see and we're counting on him moving forward.”
Once labelled a future national team star, Grella's career has not reached the heights some thought it would back when he was starring at the college level with Duke but it looks like he has now found somewhere in his hometown club where he can start to showcase that former promise.