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Hernan Grana returns to MAPFRE Stadium two years after leaving abruptly

The former Black & Gold defender is back, but this time in the red of FC Dallas.

MLS: FC Dallas at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Remember Hernan Grana, the defender who played seven games for Columbus Crew SC in 2015?

Did you ever wonder where Grana went after less than one season with the Black & Gold? Well if you are out at MAPFRE Stadium Saturday night, you’ll likely find out.

After acquiring Grana from Argentinian side All Boys in January of 2015, the defender was granted his release from Crew SC in mid-May of the same year with head coach Gregg Berhalter citing homesickness as the reason.

“We officially parted ways with Hernan, effective immediately,” Berhalter told reporters two seasons ago. “Talking about bringing guys in and not knowing exactly how it’s going to go, the toll of being away from his family and his newborn became too much to bear. As a result of that, we parted ways with the idea that he’s returning to Argentina to be with his family.”

After leaving MLS, Grana spent 2016 split between his parent club All Boys and Ferro Carril Oeste where he went on loan. When the 2017 MLS season began, Grana resurfaced, back in MLS and on loan with FC Dallas.

At the time, fans in Columbus were confused why Grana would return to the league he’d left so abruptly just two seasons before.

“I think sometimes if a guy has been in his country and hasn’t traveled abroad, that first experience can be daunting,” Berhalter said this week. “He had a newborn, his wife had given birth and he was away from them and it wasn’t an easy situation.

I think when he left, he got to reflect on how strong the MLS is and how good the lifestyle can be in America. So maybe that prompted him to want to come back.”

This is not uncommon according to Berhalter who says he frequently hears about guys who have left and want to return to MLS.

“I get emails from agents all the time about players wanting to come back to America,” he said. “Foreigners that left for similar leagues and now they want to come back because they realize it’s a good league, it’s an exciting league, the paychecks come on time.”

Grana has been a big addition to Dallas. The defender has started 20 of the club’s 24 matches in 2017, recording two assists and was named an MLS All-Star in his return to the league.

Basically, Grana has been exactly what Berhalter expected him to be in MLS. Unfortunately, he’s done it in another team’s uniform and could play against his former club Saturday when Dallas comes to MAPFRE Stadium.

Despite all that, there are no hard feelings.

“I think Hernan’s an asset to this league. He’s a very good player,” Berhalter said.

“I think Hernan has got great determination. He’s got great strength. He’s a very good defender, good on the ball, good crossing. He’s a solid right back. We enjoyed working with him. We thought he contributed well to the squad.”