Mike Grella (13) celebrates his goal in his first game back since his knee injury. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mike Grella could not have written a better script for his first competitive match in nearly a year.
The Glen Cove, N.Y. native came off the bench in the 65th minute and wound up scoring the game-winning goal 19 minutes later to lift Columbus Crew SC into a 2-1 MLS win over the San Jose Earthquakes at MAPFRE Stadium Saturday.
Grella, a midfielder, hadn’t played since last June after suffering cartilage damage.
“The whole group is extremely proud of [Mike],” Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “I think it is a testament to him as a person and as an athlete that he has been out this long, comes back and makes that type of impact.”
"It's just the beginning." Mike Grella scores his 1️⃣st ever #CrewSC goal 🙌 Hear his thoughts ⬇️ #CLBvSJ
Posted by Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, April 28, 2018
Video courtesy of Columbus Crew SC’s Facebook page
Grella, acquired from the Red Bulls in the offseason, replaced Niko Hansen and less than 20 minutes later, he made a major impact before 11,479 spectators as Columbus snapped a four-game winless streak.
After taking a pass from Pedro Santos, Grella knocked home a 12-yard shot from the left side to snap a 1-1 deadlock.