By Michael Lewis
On the coldest night of the year just before the coldest day of the year, here is a little soccer hot stove for you:
I have two words for you Cosmos supporters:
That’s right — Mike Grella.
Yes, he is coming back from a pair of knee surgeries that limited him to only 12 games with Columbus Crew SC last season.
But a healthy Grella is certainly worth risk, given his ability and history. His skillset is second to none, especially on the left-side of midfield, and given the schedule in the National Premier Soccer League and the NPSL Founders Cup, he won’t have to push himself in a game more than once a week for most of the time.
Moreover, the 32-year-old midfielder is a local product, having grown up in Glen Cove, N.Y. on Long Island, where he still lives with his wife in the same immediate neighborhood of his family. It will give the team some local identity and a “name” player.
He also is a respected player in the tri-state area for so many reasons.
The 5-11, 180-lb. Grella made his name with Forest Park in the Long Island Soccer Football League before attending Duke University. He played two seasons for the Long Island Rough Riders before traveling to England to pursue a career and then returning to the states to perform with the Red Bulls.
During his prime, Grella was one of the leading left-sided midfielders, forming one of the most impressive attacking midfields in Major League Soccer history with the Red Bulls. Grella (nine goals, seven assists) was on the left, Sacha Kljestan (eight goals, 14 assists) in the center, with Lloyd Sam (10 goals, seven assists) on the right. That game out to be an average of nine goals and nine assists per player (Kljestan is now with Orlando City SC, Sam with Miami FC, which will meet the Cosmos in the Founders Cup this summer).
He was inducted into the LISFL Hall of Fame last Nov. 16.
Due to knee surgeries, Grella might not necessarily be the same player as he once was. Or, he could come back as good as ever.
Only time will tell.
Still, he’s worth a shot for the Cosmos to sign.