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Columbus Crew SC acquires Mike Grella from the Colorado Rapids

The former New York Red Bulls winger was selected by the Colorado Rapids in the Re-Entry Draft and traded to the Black & Gold.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC announced its first offensive addition to the 2018 MLS season as the Black & Gold acquired midfielder Mike Grella in a trade with the Colorado Rapids moments after the Denver team selected him in Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft on Friday. The Rapids will receive Crew SC’s second-round selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in exchange.

A New York-native, the 30-year-old Grella spent the last three seasons with the New York Red Bulls, his only MLS team so far, amassing 79 matches (66 starts), 16 goals and 13 assists. He helped the club to two first-place finishes in the Eastern Conference during the regular season (2015, 2016), which included winning the 2015 Supporters’ Shield, and set a record for fastest goal in MLS history, as he scored the opening goal in a 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Union on October 18, 2015.

A tenacious winger, he is considered a technically-gifted and creative player, but has struggled with a serious injury in the left knee that sidelined him from July on, limiting him to only 362 minutes and eight matches (two starts) in the 2017 season.

“Mike is an intelligent and technically gifted player whose profile fits our game model well. His determination and strong work ethic will put him in an excellent position to return to top form,” sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter said about the signing. “We believe that at his best, Mike Grella is an outstanding player in Major League Soccer.”

Grella started his professional career in England, playing for Leeds United, where he registered 40 appearances and five goals. After bouncing from smaller English teams to Denmark’s Viborg FF, he returned to the United States to play for the North Carolina FC of the North American Soccer League in 2014.

Grella is the second addition announced by Crew SC in the week as the team acquired goalkeeper Jon Kempin from the LA Galaxy last Wednesday