Tag Archives: Mike Grella

Columbus Crew SC vs San Jose Earthquakes

 

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Official Columbus Crew Reporter

By Hilary // @hils4crew

Saturday, April 28: 2-1 Win

On a cool April evening, Mapfre Stadium hosted a Superhero themed night.  Not only were the stands filled with superheroes, but a superhero was found on the field too—resulting in a Columbus Crew SC 2-1 victory over San Jose Earthquakes.   

Crew SC led off the scoring with a Harrison Afful goal from a Frederico Higuain assist in the 28’.  The Earthquakes didn’t let Columbus get too comfortable with the lead for very long.  In the 45’, Florian Jungwirth sent a ball across the field to a seemingly unmarked Danny Hoesen.  Hoesen buried a header past Zach Steffen who looked like he may have gotten hit by a villain’s freeze ray.  Although, I’m not sure there is much Steffen could have done to stop it.

In the 51’, it looked like Crew SC may have found their answer.  When Afful sent in a cross, Milton Valenzuela shot the ball, but an Earthquake defender blocked the ball.  It rebounded to Gyasi Zardes who took a shot, which seemed to hit the raised hands of the defender and deflected away.  Most fans and Crew SC players thought it should be a penalty kick.  Nothing was called, and the game continued.

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Milton Valenzuela image: Hilary @hils4crew

Mike Grella entered his first game for Crew SC in the 65’ after being picked up in the offseason. Grella hadn’t played in an MLS match since early 2017 due to a serious injury.   He has been working back from this injury and these were his first returning steps into an MLS game. 

What Grella didn’t tell his teammates and fans is that he had on his superhero cape.    In the 84’, Pedro Santos crossed the ball across to Grella who after a few quick touches buried the ball past the keeper at the near post earning Crew SC the win.    I don’t know if you can write a happier ending than that. 

Thoughts on the Game:

Earlier in the week, the club announced a contract extension for Higuain for next season.  Now, I’ve always been pretty vocal about how vital I think Pipa is for this team, but for the last few weeks, he has gotten several cards for dissent, kicked the sideboards, and yelled at some of his teammates pretty heatedly on the field.  This reminds me of Pipa from a few years back–not one I thought was playing the best soccer.  While I appreciate passion, I hope it doesn’t start to negatively impact his game.

Hilary - Columbus Crew/mlsfemale
Pipa image: Hilary @hils4crew

In the last few weeks, Crew SC has significantly outshot its opponents.  While Crew SC is holding their opponents to very few shots, the problem is that the opponents’ shots are going in.  So, Columbus needs to figure out how to continue to limit their opponents’ shot opportunities while not allowing their limited shots to actually enter the goal.

I still feel this team is missing Justin Meram’s production and knowledge of his teammates’ tendencies.  Hopefully, Grella might develop into an answer to Meram’s absence.  I’m also a huge fan of our rookie left back Milton Valenzuela.  He is one to keep an eye on throughout the season if you haven’t already noticed him. 

This upcoming weekend, Crew SC travel across the country to play the Seattle Sounders.  Hopefully, the team will remember their superhero capes.

Featured image courtesy: Hilary

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Last Minute Redemption

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Wednesday, July 5th: 3-2 Win

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I wouldn’t be the reporter I am without my social media presence. Still being relatively new to soccer, I get a lot of context about MLS from the rumblings on Twitter. For example, I learned that the New York Red Bulls (8-8-2, 26 points) don’t usually win on the 4th of July. And that RBNY hasn’t won at Gillette Stadium since 2014. So there was some trepidation on my part going into the game against the New England Revolution (5-9-5, 20 points).

GET WELL SOON: It feels as if the team just got back defender Aurelien Collin and midfielder Mike Grella from injury, and now both are out with injury, with Grella out for the season.

 

PLAY YOUR KIDS: With Grella and Collin out, and defenders Kemar Lawrence and Michael Amir Murillo away on National Team duty (Jamaica and Panama, respectively), RBNY looked to their USL squad to fill out their roster. This resulted in 7 homegrown players available for New York (4 in the starting lineup: Sean Davis, Connor Lade, Aaron Long, and Alex Muyl). RBNY has a solid developmental academy, and the proof is in the lineup. Congratulations to Dan Metzger on his MLS debut.

STAY THE COURSE: What does it benefit RBNY to play against their system just because they’re on the road? The Red Bulls have lacked consistency so far this season, so if that means the team commits to the high press on the road, then that’s how it goes.

BOY THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY: There were three goals in the span of 8 minutes (Teal Bunbury 21′, Bradley Wright-Phillips 23′, Lee Nguyen 27′). Up until the scoring began, the play was so choppy that it was a wonder the ball got anywhere near the net! Going into halftime, the play from the Red Bulls was rooted more in frustration than strategy.

The team ended with 23 fouls and a surprising 4 yellow cards. I have said in the past that if RBNY wants to pull a little of that “Bad News Bears” attitude, I really don’t mind. I’ve met enough of the players to know they’re plenty nice and can go ahead and be a little naughty on the field. The Revolution went hard as well, with 20 fouls of their own, including a foul in the box on Davis that took Daniel Royer to the spot to level the score in the 55th minute.

BIEN TRABAJO: For someone who is 100% Hispanic, my Spanish is not great. But forward Gonzalo Veron is Argentinian, and I’d like to make an effort for him. Veron came onto the field in the 83rd minute to replace BWP and got straight to work. He was everywhere: defense, offense, up and down the field. And then the gorgeous finish on a pass from Felipe in the 90th minute completed the turnaround started by Royer’s converted penalty kick.

Oye, Gonzalo: Me gusto verte trabajar.

 

WHAT’S NEXT?: The transfer window is about to open, and coach Jesse Marsch has already hinted at some changes coming down the pike. I don’t really get excited about this aspect of soccer, because it’s business. I’ve already seen some players come and go, and have to admit that the occasional mercenary can be just as useful as a stalwart mainstay. I’ll take the changes as they come.

The Gold Cup begins Friday, and I’m looking forward to some solid CONCACAF competition. Best of luck to the USMNT and all the MLS players who received call-ups.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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No Joy in Harrison

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official NY Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Sunday, May 14th: 1-3 Loss

So here I am again, having watched the New York Red Bulls (5-6-1, 16 points) lose to a non-conference team that has been suffering this season (LA Galaxy, 3-5-2, 11 points), and feeling the urge to explain what is going wrong for the Red Bulls. But I also insist that the answer is above my pay grade. So I can’t explain. I can only guess.

Watching the team in action, it’s almost as if no one is showing the necessary initiative. Sure, Sacha Kljestan was a natural successor in the role of team captain, and he takes the role seriously enough. The roster is full of players who have been a part of the system for a long time, from veterans Felipe and Bradley Wright-Phillips to Homegrown players Connor Lade and Alex Muyl. But it seems that everyone is more willing to let someone else take the lead in the moment.

The back line, with its near-constant rotation, isn’t taking charge of the space in the defensive third while opponents are on the attack; Bradley Wright-Phillips seems to be aiming for the assist rather than the goal; Sacha Kljestan spends several touches squaring up the ball for someone who just isn’t coming.

When Galaxy DP Roman Alessandrini scored a brace in the first 10 minutes of the game, it’s not because he was waiting for the injured Jermaine Jones to return, or depending on just the right pass from Gyasi Zardes. He just went for it. This evening, I sat closer to the field than I had ever been, and could hear Luis Robles screaming to his teammates to “wake up”. But they never did. There isn’t the explosiveness on the field that made them Supporter Shield winners in the past.

On a more positive note, Mike Grella made his return from injury in the 2nd half. He tried to help turn things around for the team, and the fans were happy to see him back on the pitch. The frustration levels were rising, leading to a penalty in the box in the 78th minute that was converted by Giovani Dos Santos, bringing the Galaxy to a 3-0 lead.

Galaxy defender Bradley Diallo was issued two yellow cards which resulted in a sending off in the 90th minute, and that opened the door for Daniel Royer to make the consolation goal in the 93rd. It was a welcome celebration, but too little too late. As the rain was falling in the waning minutes of the game, disappointed fans began to pour out of Red Bull Arena. Like the sad fans of Mudville, they had no choice but to admit that the mighty Red Bulls had, in their own way, struck out.

The team faces Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC this coming Friday, giving them only a few days to regroup. Who will be the team’s lightning rod? And how soon can they get the team charged up?

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

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So Much for the “A Game”

Sylvana - NY Red Bulls
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench

Saturday, May 6: 3-0 Loss

MLS is unpredictable. People who want to be more assured of a game ending a particular way will look to English, German, or Mexican soccer. They can be much more confident where their Liverpools, Bayern Munichs, or Pumas will rise and fall, and where they will end up at the end of the season.

It’s just not so with MLS teams. A team like the New York Red Bulls (5-5-1, 16 points) should have sailed into Talen Energy Stadium and taken down Bottom-of-the-table Philadelphia Union (1-4-4, 7 points). Sure, they just came off a loss against Sporting Kansas City. But that was with all sorts of tweaks to their system. Maybe they just underestimated Union’s hunger to win.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying, though. The familiar faces were back in the starting XI, and the bench included a recuperated Mike Grella. The first half was largely uneventful, with solid saves from goalkeepers Luis Robles and Andre Blake. Defender Damien Perrinelle was in the action all over the defending third, and winger Alex Muyl was on the attack. However, striker Bradley Wright-Phillips seemed to give up the ball in an effort to create chances for other Red Bulls. The Union defensive line figured out BWP quickly and shut him down at every turn.

The second half became the CJ Sapong show. He scored 2 goals in the run of play (74′ & 81′) followed by a Penalty Kick (85′) for a handball in the box by Perrinelle. Despite using all three available substitutions, including Mike Grella, manager Jesse Marsch could not right the ship and the game ended in a shut out of the Red Bulls on the road.

Remember when I said MLS is unpredictable? Well, the one thing the MLS fan can count on is how difficult it is to win away from home. No team has won more than 2 away games so far this season. So perhaps it was inevitable that Philly would win. They have a town hall meeting for season ticket holders this week, and had to have been feeling the heat.

The Red Bulls have another 3-game home stand coming up, beginning with Western conference underdog LA Galaxy. They might not be hungry for their first win, but they could pull out all the stops for a solid road win. The Red Bulls have to snap their slump before it gets out of hand. This promises to be a more important game than originally expected, for both sides.

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @WhiteZinWench

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Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017