New England Soccer Today

Remembering Winston Griffiths

Former New England Revolution midfielder and University of Rhode Island product Winston Griffiths passed away Sunday night at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Jamaica after reportedly being found in poor condition by friends on the side of the road on Saturday. He was 33 years old.

Griffiths’ short stint on the Revolution is most memorable for his near miss in the 2002 MLS Cup Final against the Lost Angeles Galaxy. In what was then golden goal overtime after a scoreless 90 minutes, the Jamaican International got the ball off a Steve Ralston corner kick just outside the box and blasted a shot towards goal. His effort deflected off a defender, beat goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and looked destined to win the match for the Revolution before being denied by the crossbar.

The Clarendon, Jamaica native would’ve been an unlikely hero, having zero goals and just a pair of assists for the Revs in eight regular season appearances (six starts) after joining the team in a July 30th waiver claim from the Galaxy. While the then 23-year-old was brought in as cover for the injured Brian Kamler and contributed as a starter as the Revs began to turn their season around, his role would evolve in the postseason.

With Kamler healthy, the Revs turned to Griffiths, a speedy left midfielder, to be a game changing sub with his pace off the bench in the playoffs. He would make five postseason appearances that year as a late game substitution, including the Cup final, where at age 24, Griffiths saw his shot fall just inches away from forever etching his place in Revolution history. Instead, the Galaxy scored the winner seconds later.

But while that would mark the last time Griffiths played in MLS – his one year in the league also saw him play for the Metrostars and Los Angeles Galaxy – his time in New England goes far beyond just playing for the Revolution. Griffiths also starred for the University of Rhode Island in 1998 and 1999.

His stint with the Revolution may be remembered for his MLS Cup near miss, but Griffiths played a vital role in leading URI to the Atlantic-10 Conference regular season and tournament championships in 1999. In fact, Griffiths tallied two goals and had two assists in the 1999 A-10 Championship when the Rams beat Duquesne, 7-0. He was named to the A-10 All-Championship Team and is still tied for the A-10 record with six points in a championship game.

Griffiths added another goal in URI’s 3-0 NCAA Tournament Play-in win over Mercer before the Rams fell 2-1 in overtime to Brown University in the first round.

Griffiths first came to the U.S. in 1998 because of a soccer scholarship from URI, following in the footsteps of another Jamaican, Rams all-time leading scorer Andy Williams – another former Revolution player – and helped the school continue its strong soccer program. He finished the 1999 season with nine goals, including three game-winners, and eight assists for 26 points. In two years at URI, Griffiths accumulated 42 points.

After URI, Griffiths joined the Connecticut Wolves of the former A-League, who played their home matches at New Britain’s Veterans Stadium. Griffiths was a part of the team’s biggest victory, a 3-2 win over Major League Soccer’s now defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny in the Second Round of the 2001 U.S. Open Cup. His 58th minute goal put the Wolves ahead for good as they celebrated the upset in front of 4,362 at Veterans Stadium. He would score again in the Third Round, but the Wolves would fall 2-1 to the Richmond Kickers on an 89th minute goal.

Griffiths then earned a trial in MLS with the Metrostars and the New Jersey-based team filed a claim, but so did the Dallas Burn. The Burn won a lottery for Griffiths, but the Metrostars promptly traded for the young Jamaican.  Just over a month later, Griffiths was on the move again, this time to the Los Angeles Galaxy. Griffiths would score one goal, his only in MLS, in six appearances for Los Angeles before returning to New England with the Revolution. MLS Cup 2002 would mark his last MLS appearance.

From 1998-2002, Griffiths also played for the Jamaican National Team, finishing his international career with two goals in 28 appearances.

After the 2002 season, Griffiths would bounce around teams in Jamaica and Canada for the rest of his career. Griffiths was reportedly living in Canada, though he was visiting Jamaica, at the time of his death.

Though the Griffiths spent under five years in area, the midfielder left his mark in New England soccer history. He should be remembered not just for the shot that nearly won the Revolution a championship, but also for the goals that helped make history for URI and the now defunct Connecticut Wolves.

Winston Griffiths

September 12, 1978 – October 23, 2011


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