Mike Grella: “The last two years with injuries haven’t been easy and ultimately have resulted in my decision to move on from the game I love.” (Photo courtesy of MLS)
By Michael Lewis
Former Red Bulls midfielder Mike Grella has called it a career.
The Glen Cove, N.Y. resident announced his retirement Saturday via Instagram, saying that injuries over the past two years were a major reason for his decision.
“It is with a heavy heard that I write this message,” Grella wrote. “The last two years with injuries haven’t been easy and ultimately have resulted in my decision to move on from the game I love.
“Thank you to my family, friends, fans, staff members and most importantly God for an awesome ride. I am grateful for where this game has taken me and the experiences it’s given me.”
Grella, 32, 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).
Grella performed in but 12 games over 480 minutes, starting only five matches. He recorded a goal and an assist. The 5-11, 180-lb. midfielder was inducted into the LISFL Hall of Fame Nov. 16.
“Some of my fondest memories and experiences include representing the U-18 U.S. national team, representing Duke, one of the greatest universities in this country, beating Manchester United in Old Trafford in front of 80K, winning the Supporters Shield with NYRB, scoring the fastest goal in MLS history,” Grella wrote.
Grella did not say what he would tackle next.
“I am optimistic and excited for the future, and look forward approaching the next chapter of my life the way I always have, with integrity, determination and discipline,” he wrote. “I am truly grateful for my time in the game.”