Columbus Crew SC closed out Super Hero Night with a Hollywood-ending en route to a, 2-1, victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at MAPFRE Stadium. Back from an almost 11-month injury rehabilitation, Mike Grella made his Crew SC debut in the 65th minute and scored the fairytale game-winner in the 84th minute.
“The whole group is extremely proud of (Mike),” Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said. “I think it is a testament to him as a person and as an athlete that he has been out this long, comes back and makes that type of impact.”
In the 28th minute, defender Harrison Afful found the back of the net on a pass from Federico Higuain, nailing his first goal of the 2018 regular season with a roof-of-the-net bound rocket. San Jose’s Danny Hoosen responded with the equalizer at the end of the first half.
In the 65th minute, Columbus made its first subsitiution as Niko Hansen was replaced by Grella, who was acquired in an offseason transaction with the New York Red Bulls last December.
Since his surgery, Grella has been eager to return to the pitch. He proved he was ready to play with the game winning goal for Columbus in the 84th minute.
HE CAME IN WHEN WE NEEDED HIM & SAVED THE DAY ON SUPERHERO NIGHT! WHO IS WRITING THIS BEAUTIFUL SCRIPT!?— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) April 29, 2018
OMG, @MikeGrella10! What an entrance. You are Superman! #CrewSC | #CLBvSJ pic.twitter.com/U67ReMH8gU
The Black & Gold heroes out-passed and out-possessed the Quakes, 85 percent and 54.9 percent respectively.
Crew SC returns to MAPFRE Stadium on Wednesday May 9 to host Philadelphia Union at 7:30 p.m. ET.
- Defender Harrison Afful scored his first goal of the MLS regular season in the 28th minute of tonight’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. The goal was assisted by Federico Higuain and Milton Valenzuela. Afful has appeared in nine matches (all starts) for Crew SC this season. Since joining the club in 2015, Afful has made 72 appearances (69 starts) in the regular season and has recorded four goals and six assists.
- In tonight’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes, midfielder Federico Higuain recorded an assist on Harrison Afful’s 28th-minute goal. With this assist, Higuain has now tallied four assists on the season while appearing in nine matches (all starts), bringing his Crew SC career total to 53 assists. Since joining the Black & Gold in 2012, Higuain has appeared in 158 career MLS regular-season matches (153 starts) for Crew SC, recording 13,542 minutes.
- Midfielder Milton Valenzuela recorded an assist in tonight’s match on Harrison Afful’s 28th-minute goal. With this assist, Valenzuela has now tallied two assists on the season while appearing in nine matches (eight starts). Valenzuela joined the Black & Gold this year as a Young Designated Player and has scored one goal to go with his two assists.
- In his 2018 regular-season debut for Crew SC, Mike Grella scored a game-winning goal in the 84th minute. After coming in as a substitute for Niko Hansen in the 65th minute, Grella took a pass from Pedro Santos and sent the ball into the bottom-left corner to score his first career goal with Crew SC. He had missed the start of the season due to a left knee injury, and had last scored on October 16th, 2016. He joined the Black & Gold after three seasons with the New York Red Bulls where he made 73 appearances (61 starts) and accumulated 17 goals and 13 assists in the regular season since 2015.
- Midfielder Pedro Santos recorded an assist in tonight’s match on Mike Grella’s game-winning goal in the 84’ minute. With this assist, Santos has now tallied three assists on the season while appearing in nine matches (eight starts). His most recent assist before tonight was last Saturday when he helped forward Gyasi Zardes score his fifth goal of the season in a 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution. Santos joined the Black & Gold in 2017 and has made 18 appearances and 17 starts.
- With Mike Grella’s game-winning goal in the 84th minute, Crew SC has scored its 600th goal in franchise history at home. The goal came when Grella took a pass from Pedro Santos inside the box and drove it into the bottom-left corner. Crew SC now has a record of 186-94-73 at home and has outscored opponents 600-415.
- With tonight’s start, forward Gyasi Zardes has now recorded 125 starts in his MLS career. Since joining the League in 2013, Zardes has made an appearance in 140 matches, scored 39 goals (five with Crew SC), and recorded 17 assists. In tonight’s match, he played all 81 minutes and took one shot on 17 touches.
- Adam Jahn made his 100th appearance in his career in tonight’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes after coming on as a substitute for Gyasi Zardes in the 81st minute. Jahn has started in 27 matches since joining the MLS in 2013, scoring 12 goals in his career. He joined the Black & Gold in 2016 and has made 38 appearances (5 starts) and has scored five goals.
- With tonight’s win, Crew SC extends its undefeated streak against San Jose to six matches dating back to 2008. The Black & Gold now have a 3-0-3 record over that span and have outscored them 7-3. In addition, Crew SC still hasn’t allowed over two goals at home against San Jose since July 30, 1999. The Black & Gold own a 10-2-3 record over that span.
- With tonight’s win over the San Jose Earthquakes, Crew SC has improved its all-time record against the Quakes to 20-15-7 (14-3-3 at home). The all-time scoring record between Crew SC and San Jose is 68-60 in favor of the Black & Gold.
- With tonight’s 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, Crew SC has improved its record on the season to 4-3-1. Next match, Crew SC will take on the Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field on Saturday, May 5 (4:00 p.m. ET / CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports, BCSN2, CD102.5 FM, English and Spanish audio broadcasts available on ColumbusCrewSC.com).