Grella’s Return To Provide Boost to Red Bulls Attack

After missing the last month’s worth of games, Mike Grella is finally back with the New York Red Bulls, a welcome addition to a team that has struggled to score goals this year.

Grella has been on the sidelines since his last appearance on Mar. 19, with what he refers to as a “twinge” pain in his left knee that has been bothering him since the playoffs last year. The area of concern includes his kneecap and the area just above that region; every time he would bend it he said he felt a sharpness that he likened to a pain felt with a toothache.

He’s tried everything during that stretch from fish oils to inserts in his shoes to correct his posture, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, deep-tissue massages and overall strengthening work around the quadriceps and the iliotibial (IT) band in the knee. Finally now after a month away, Grella returned to the field on Tuesday to run and do some individual ball work.

“I don’t feel any pain,” Grella told “If I do feel anything, it is very minimal.”

HARRISON, NEW JERSEY- OCTOBER 16: Mike Grella #13 of New York Red Bulls in action during the New York Red Bulls Vs Columbus Crew SC MLS regular season match at Red Bull Arena, on October 16, 2016 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

It was a welcomed sight for him to be back on the field after a month of treatment, and time spent on the exercise bike and in the pool.

The issue in his left knee is believed to be the aforementioned IT band which Grella said is tight. Essentially, he describes it as the band “pulling the patella off track.” Early in the season before he was shut down for the past month, Grella had a cortisone shot to help minimize the pain.

But he still felt the twinge which has led to him having to sit out the last handful of games.

“It can develop from overuse,” Grella said. “Or a tightening in the lower back, which could be the case with me. I do a lot of driving.”

Grella commutes to Morris County every day from Long Island.

Now after the Red Bulls 2-0 win on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena over D.C. United, it seems like New York might be humming again offensively. Being able to add Grella on the wings or potentially up top could be a major boost to a side that seems to be rounding into form in recent weeks.

“The more that he comes away with positive responses the more we can escalate things and get him back to where he’s game fit,” head coach Jesse Marsch said of Grella’s return on Tuesday.

May 18, 2016; Harrison, NJ, USA; New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch congratulates New York Red Bulls forward Mike Grella (13) after scoring goal against Chicago Fire during second half at Red Bull Arena. The New York Red Bulls defeated Chicago Fire 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Red Bulls Notes

  • Michael Amir Murillo, the Panamanian right back who has looked good in training but hasn’t appeared yet for the MLS side, was in training on Tuesday. He was an early exit on Friday night from the New York Red Bulls II match at Montclair State University, a 3-1 win over Orlando City B. Murillo came out from the match midway through the first half with what Marsch called “a weird cramp, it’s not anything that anyone is overly concerned about.”
  • Before his exit from the USL game on Friday, Murillo looked very solid on the right side of the defense. He moves forward well and adds plenty in terms of ball-winning. In that match, Vincent Bezecourt scored once and had two assists in what was a sparkling display from the second-year player. One of those assists was to Junior Flemmings, the young Jamaican who has been impressive in the USL this year.
  • It was a rather solid showing from Hassan Ndam, the 18-year old center back out of Cameroon. Ndam already looks physically ready for the MLS level and has good instincts. His tactical understanding is growing and his understanding of the demands of the position continue to strengthen. He along with Bezecourt and Flemmings could be knocking on the door of more playing time soon.