It has indeed been a rough going for Mike Grella over the past few months. Coming off a brilliant 2015 for the New York Red Bulls, Grella earned the nickname “Grelladinho” as he wowed crowds with his impressive dribbling that made many defenders in MLS look foolish.
Heading into the 2016 season, many were excited to see how Grella could follow up. For a good amount of this season, it looked like it was going to be another great year for the midfielder. From late April to mid June, Grella was one of the best offensive players for the New York Red Bulls. Grella tallied five goals and and three assists over a seven-game span during that period. Since then, Grella has been goaless and only recorded three assists in his last 15 MLS appearances.
Not many are sure what has changed in Grella’s game, but the difference is very noticeable. In many recent matches, Grella at many times has looked disinterested during his time on the field. He has been very ineffective in taking players one-on-one and his decision making with his passing has been sub par as well. While Manager Jesse Marsch hasn’t given up on Grella yet, it may only be a matter of time before Grella is spending more time on the bench.
The Decline of Mike Grella Equals Opportunity for Others
With Grella on the bench, there are a number of options that Marsch can turn to. Here are few that seem very likely:
Gonzalo Veron is a very good to option to replace Grella in the Starting XI. After being non-existent for the first season and a half of his time with New York, Veron has been on fire as of late. In the past few weeks, he has scored a goal against D.C United, as well as having the assist that set up Sacha Kljestan’s last minute game winner against Alianza FC in CONCACAF Champions League. Seeing as how Veron appears to be more dangerous when he is playing out on the left wing makes it a strong possibility. It has been very hard for Jesse Marsch to not give the Argentine international more time on the field.
Option two is one many fans have been calling for. Alex Muyl, along with Grella, has seen his fair share of struggles the past couple of weeks. In this option, we see Daniel Royer inserted into the starting lineup for Muyl. Keeping Veron where he seems to be the most effective, Royer slides into that right wingers’ role. In his short time with the Red Bulls, Royer has shown just how great he can be for the club.
The third option is the exact same midfield we saw this past Sunday against Toronto FC. This one is saying that Marsch isn’t ready to pull the plug on Muyl yet. Muyl has shown that he has potential to be great quite a bit this season. This option just sees Royer staying out on the left flank. Marsch has been reluctant to give Veron consistent starts this season, so this option is not out of the question.
One Note to Consider
Forgotten in this whole frenzy is Omer Damari. The man on loan from Red Bull Leipzig has been sidelined with an injury these past few weeks. Once healthy and cleared for action, Damari could very well see his name thrown in the Starting XI.