MLS Cup Moments

Top 50 MLS Cup Moments: #26 Nearly a Hero

LA Galaxy 1 Revolution 0
Ruiz 113'  
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Between 1998-2002, Winston Griffiths played 28 times for the Jamaican national team, a.k.a., the Reggae Boyz. He scored two goals.
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#26. Nearly A Hero (2002)

Ed. Note: In a sad development, we learned on Tuesday of the death of former New England Revolution player Winston Griffiths. He died in Clarendon, Jamaica, on Sunday, October 23, after reportedly being found on the side of the road.

There are certain names in the annals of MLS Cup lore that demand bold type.

Eddie Pope. Carlos Ruiz. Pando Ramírez.

Then there is Winston Griffiths.

The Jamaican attacker, who played only a handful of MLS games, is not remembered by many. He nearly went down in history, though – but for the span of a crossbar.

The 2002 New England Revolution were upstarts, a scrabbled-together side that had come from nowhere in the middle of the summer and just kept winning, game after game, until they ended up playing in front of more than 61,000 against the heavily favored LA Galaxy at Gillette Stadium.

The first 90 minutes weren’t the prettiest in MLS history, but then came extratime and, with it, an onslaught of chances.

One of those chances fell to the foot of Griffiths, whose shot from the top of the box deflected off of Ezra Hendrickson, over Kevin Hartman and looked destined for the upper 90.

“I remember watching that, waiting for it to come down,” former LA midfielder Sasha Victorine tells MLSsoccer.com. “It seemed like it was up there forever. And I think everybody thought it was in.”

It was one of those moments that seemed like it had been dreamed up by Hollywood. Griffiths was a former Galaxy player, had gone to college down the road from Foxborough at the University of Rhode Island, and here he was ready to snatch the trophy that seemed destined for LA for the first time after three final failures.

“It was one of those moments that went in slow motion,” Galaxy legend Cobi Jones recalls. “I was saying, ‘My gosh, not again, we’re going to lose it off this play, off the deflection.’”

Pete Vagenas, who was in his third year with the Galaxy in 2002, was even more succinct: “That play made our heart stop.”

But just for a moment, as Griffiths’ deflection came off the crossbar and was cleared, LA were still destiny’s darlings.

“It was eye-opening … a wake-up call,” goalkeeper Hartman says today. “That could’ve been the one [to win it]. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for New England, it was really the impetus for us to push forward and get the game-winner.”

Just seconds later, the Galaxy would indeed win the game, thanks to Ruiz’s dramatic golden goal that broke their MLS Cup final losing streak.

It all came and went in the blink of an eye. One minute the Revs were going toe-to-toe with LA, and the next they were watching the Galaxy celebrate.

And Winston Griffiths' name was left in regular type.

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