Q&A | Mike Grella discusses joining Crew SC

Columbus Crew SC announced that the club has acquired midfielder Mike Grella in a trade with the Colorado Rapids, who selected Grella in Stage 1 of Major League Soccer’s 2017 Re-Entry Draft, held via conference call.

In exchange, Crew SC sent the Rapids a Second Round selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. Grella is a nine-year veteran who most recently played for the New York Red Bulls, where he made 73 regular-season appearances (61 starts) while registering 16 goals and 13 assists.

ColumbusCrewSC.com's Carlos Mojica had the chance to speak with Grella on the phone:

Carlos Mojica, ColumbusCrewSC.com: Big news coming out of Stage One of the 2017 MLS Re-Entry Draft today, with you joining Crew SC following a trade with Colorado Rapids. It’s been a whirlwind, but what are your thoughts?

Mike Grella: I’m very, very excited to be in Columbus. I’ve had some dialogue with Gregg [Berhalter], the coach and it’s been very, very positive and I’m very happy and I’m grateful where I feel very respected, very wanted. I feel like I can help the team.

CM: Having played against Crew SC nine times head-to-head in regular season and postseason - what are your thoughts on the team and system you will be coming into?

MG: I think it will suit me very well. Just recently I was watching the playoffs and the way they play – I was saying to my father who I was watching the game with – is very balanced. A very, very intelligent and very balanced [game]. I know as a Red Bull I used to hate playing against them, because we would run the most against them. When they had the ball they would open the field and play very good football and make us run and they’d do it with a counter, the way they’d sit back. They always would make it very difficult for us and I always respected the way they played, the system, the desire they had, what the coach would make them do… I always had a high respect for that, so I think I’m going to fit very well into the system because they play very good football and it’s very balanced as well.

CM: Are you familiar with any players on Crew SC’s current roster?

MG: I’ve spoken to Justin Meram through social media and stuff like that, because of the respect that I have for the way he plays the game and the way he handles himself, so I’d always have a little chat with him just to make sure that he knows that I have that respect for him. Of course, there’s a lot of very good players on the team. Like I said, I respect the way they play, and I respect all the individuals there as well, they’re very good players.

CM: You have almost even numbers in regard to goals scored and assisted in MLS. How would you describe yourself as an attacking threat?

MG: I think I’m a very well-rounded player. I like to believe that I can do a little bit of everything – that I can score goals, that I can create goals, that I can defend – so I have a very well-rounded game, I think. I’m very good at unbalancing other teams, creating chances and scoring goals, so I would say in the last third I’m very effective. I spent quite a few years in England and I like to think I have a good two-way game as well, a game where I can cover a lot of ground and also have a lot of fight in me, so I have quite a few different things. I like to think I’m well-rounded.

CM: Your career spans England, Denmark and the U.S. How have those experiences helped you develop as a player?

MG: When I played in England – because I spent most of my time there – you understand the importance of getting results. It’s a pressure-cooker for sure, so you learn how to play under pressure. I learned there more than anywhere how to be a professional, you know? How to continue to work hard, that there’s tough moments that you have to go through, that there’s good moments that you have to go through and you have to go through them like a man and fight for your spot every single day. Some of the stuff that I learned maybe in my mentality is something that I learned in England the most is that you have to fight every single day for what you want and nothing is going to be given to you. That’s one thing and then in places like Denmark –  where I was only for a short time – you learn the various technical sides of the game. Players are not as athletic, but very smart, so I learned lot there: how to be patient and how to make the right decision on the ball. 

CM: As a veteran with 79 appearances in MLS regular season and playoffs, what are you looking forward to most about this next step in your career, playing in Columbus?

MG: I want to win something for sure. I had a knee surgery five and a half months ago, so number one on my list is making sure that I come back a hundred percent fit. That’s number one. Number two is I want to be part of the team and help them any way I can – I want to win. I would like to win something, and I think that Columbus has really good things in place. Very good players. The most impressive for me has been the coach. Even in the short dialogue that we’ve had, the motivation and the confidence he has given me already… I know I’m going to the right place.

CM: What’s something Crew SC supporters may not know about you but should? 

MG: I’m a very simple guy. I’m a big-time family man and I’m very simple. I think I will be very happy in Ohio and with the team, winning games and playing well. I feel like I’m a very simple guy, a very grateful guy and a very humble guy.