The 28-year-old American completed the scoring in stoppage-time of Wednesday night's 4-1 US Open Cup win over the New York Cosmos at Red Bull Arena.
New York Red Bulls forward Mike Grella used some smart skills to grab his sixth goal of the season on Wednesday night, as his side secured a comfortable 4-1 victory over crosstown rivals the New York Cosmos in the US Open Cup Round of 16.
Red Bulls winger Sal Zizzo put the home team ahead after five minutes thanks to fellow wide man Lloyd Sam’s cross but the Cosmos found an equaliser 11 minutes later through striker Lucky Mkosana.
The MLS club regained the lead just before the break when Sacha Kljestan whipped in a ball for teenage forward Anatole Abang to head home, before the midfielder doubled their advantage from the spot nine minutes into the second-half after Hunter Gorskie brought down Chris Duvall in the area.
With the Red Bulls cruising into the competition’s last eight at that stage, despite fielding a half-strength side, head coach Jesse Marsch opted to introduce the rested Grella for the final 25 minutes to do some further damage to their NASL opponents.
As the match reached its climax, the Long Island-native showed his class in icing the result with a piece of individual brilliance, bamboozling the hapless Gorskie with some dazzling footwork before slamming a shot inside the far post.
Asked about the ex-Leeds United man’s cameo at the final whistle, coach Marsch told the club’s official website: “Mike's goal was fantastic. We have seen some amazing goals from Mike in training. Stuff like that that is almost off of the playground.
"[He's] cutting guys and making them look foolish sliding around and just under control shifting through players. Mike has been gaining so much confidence in the last two months and now it is finally paying off in goals and plays.
“I am happy for him, again I have referenced it but there is some negativity surrounding him publicly, which I think, is totally unwarranted and you can put him up with one of the most important guys on our team this year. Great goal for Mike.”
Now the kings of New York after also beating MLS rivals New York City FC 3-1 at Yankee Stadium this past weekend, the Red Bulls have so far exceeded expectations in 2015 without departed talismen Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, having taken 23 points from their opening 16 league games to sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Grella, who signed ahead of the new campaign following a successful pre-season trial, has played a key role in their solid start, earning impressive reviews with his highlight-reel filled performances on the flanks across 14 starts and three substitute appearances.
Not much was expected of the former US Under-20 international upon his arrival, having failed to impress during his time in Europe with the likes of Leeds, but it now looks like he could well be the team’s long-term answer on the left wing.