He may not want to, but Mike Grella might make his professional soccer debut far from Durham and farther from Europe.
Grella, the four-year starter and Duke's leading scorer last year, was selected by Toronto FC with the 34th pick in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft Thursday. He was the first Duke player chosen, quickly followed by Darrius Barnes with the New England Revolution's No. 40 pick. Pavelid Castaneda is still on the board.
But Grella has publicly stated that he wants to test his stock across the ocean, and, accordingly, skipped the MLS Player Combine that Barnes and Castaneda attended.
If any Duke player is capable, it's Grella. He paced the Blue Devils with 36 points last year on 14 goals—including four game-winners—and eight assists. All three were team highs, and Duke's second-leading scorer notched just 12 points on the season.
Barnes was a central defender for this year's team and also served as a captain. Fortunately for him, he'll have plenty of company in New England. The three Duke players picked in last year's SuperDraft were all taken by the Revolution. New England had taken a chance by taking Videira, who was set on playing abroad, but the Revolution's gamble finally paid off in December when it signed Videira. It will be interesting to see if the same situation plays out with Grella, who is a better pure scorer than Videira but doesn't have the center midfielder's playmaking ability.