April 29, 2018 / 2:03 AM / 4 months ago

Grella nets game-winner in return to lift Crew over Earthquakes

Mike Grella returned from missing nearly 11 months following a knee injury to score the winning goal in the 84th minute for the Columbus Crew in a 2-1 victory against the visiting San Jose Earthquakes at Mapfre Stadium on Saturday.

Columbus (4-3-2) won the first time in five games after three losses and a tie. San Jose (1-4-2) is winless in the past six matches.

Defender Harrison Afful gave Columbus a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute. Danny Hoesen tied it 1-1 in the 45th minute for San Jose before Grella, who made his Crew debut in the 65th minute, took a cross-field pass from Pedro Santos and scored to the near post.

Grella’s last appearance was June 3, 2017, for the New York Red Bulls.

“I had a feeling I would score,” Grella said. “I can’t explain how good I feel right now. It’s just amazing.”

Afful scored his first regular season goal since Oct. 16, 2016, after the Crew took advantage of a quick restart following a foul on the left wing. Milton Valenzuela got the ball to Federico Higuain, who found Afful open on the right side of the penalty area for his strike to the upper left corner.

The Crew conceded a goal just before the half for the second straight match. On April 21, New England scored in the first minute of first-half stoppage time. Hoesen’s third of the season came slightly before that.

He scored on a header from seven yards off a service by Florian Jungwirth. The goal was Hoesen’s first since scoring twice in the 3-2 win over Houston in the March 3 season opener.

The loss spoiled the 300th regular season match for Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski.

On May 5, the Crew play at the Seattle Sounders and the Earthquakes are home to Portland.

—Field Level Media

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