FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Jason Griffiths faced a difficult choice when the New England Revolution selected him in the third round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
As a native of Bracknell, England, Griffiths didn't possess the flexibility most college seniors would have in a similar situation. American citizens can take a week or two off of classes as they finish up their degree, or leave school entirely in order to try to secure a spot in MLS. Foreign players cannot do the same without having the looming specter of an immediate return to their home country if the trial doesn't pan out as hoped.
Griffiths opted for the pragmatic approach and postponed his tryout with the Revolution until he finished up his studies in Lexington.
“If I was American, I probably would have left school and came straight to New England,” Griffiths said. “But seeing as how I don't have a green card, if I came and I didn't make the team, I'd have been out of a school and out of a team. I would have had to go back to England. It would have sucked.”
Once he earned his diploma, Griffiths linked up with the Revolution in time to feature in a 4-0 friendly defeat to Portuguese champions Benfica on May 19 and spend the following week on trial with the club. New England offered the central midfielder a deal shortly afterward, leaving him to wait patiently for the necessary paperwork before he could officially join the roster.
Griffiths received his clearance on June 24 and subsequently made the bench at the first opportunity for last Sunday's 1-0 defeat to Chicago. As the Revolution chased the game in the second half, the 23-year-old believed he probably wouldn't make his debut considering his usual role as a holding midfielder.
WATCH: HIGHLIGHTS: NE 0, CHI 1
Things didn’t work out as Griffiths anticipated. Instead of deploying an attacking player, New England boss Steve Nicol threw Shalrie Joseph up front as a target player and inserted Griffiths in place of Zack Schilawski with nine minutes left to play.
“I wasn't expecting it, but it felt great to get in there and play in the first game I was available,” Griffiths said.
After appearing in his first MLS match as a substitute, Griffiths will push for a full debut ahead of Friday night's visit to Real Salt Lake. In order to earn his first start, he will have to hold off frequent starters Joseph Niouky and Pat Phelan for the chance to impress from the outset alongside Joseph.
Whether he earns the nod against RSL or whether he has to wait until a later date to make his starting bow, Griffiths said he hopes his presence can bolster the Revs as they attempt to engineer a second-half revival.
“I just want to try to work as hard as I can,” Griffiths said. “I want to try to get on the field and help the team get some wins. That's what we need right now. I want to help them as much as I can by doing what I do.”
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