No player in the Union's nine-year history has brought more humility and less ego to the team than Ray Gaddis. On Saturday, the 28-year-old Indianapolis native earned a fitting reward for his character and work ethic: he became the Union's all-time leader in minutes played.
The moment came and went without much fanfare. Gaddis set the mark by playing 85 minutes in the Union's win over New England. There was a small postgame ceremony on the field, a few pleasantries in the locker room, and that was all. As with his character, it didn't need to be anything more to feel right.
Over 13,869 minutes in 165 league games across nine seasons, Gaddis has been a consummate professional. He is quiet about his work, his deeply-held faith, and his ability to shut down opposing attackers week after week. Rest assured, though, that everyone who knows him and the team knows how important he is.
Gaddis made sure to thank everyone on the team, not just players and coaches but behind-the-scenes staff: from athletic trainer Paul Rushing — "who kept me intact," he said — to groundskeeper John Torres.
There have been challenges along the way. Gaddis was a surefire starter at right back for years, was overtaken by Keegan Rosenberry, won his place back when Rosenberry plateaued, then lost it again. This year, he has evolved from a right back into a left back, and from a stay-at-home defender to a frequent runner up the field.
"For him to achieve that and put the minutes in that he has for the club — as a starter, off the bench, right back, left back — he never says a word, brings everything every day to training, is such a mentor for our young players, and loves the city of Philadelphia and really loves the club," Union manager Jim Curtin said.
Gaddis' embrace of Philadelphia is sincere. He has led countless community service efforts, from feeding meals to the homeless, to backing Street Soccer USA's work with under-privileged kids and adults, to small moments never seen by cameras. He also knows that in a place as diverse as Philadelphia, and in an American soccer culture that needs to diversify, it is no small thing to have an African-American in the spotlight.
"I believe the Lord placed me here in Philadelphia to have the responsibility to take on being an advocate," he said. "Especially being African-American, being a role model … I hope it gives them inspiration that they can accomplish anything. Not just be a professional athlete, because often times African-Americans are pushed into music and professional sports, but to let them know that they can do anything that they want to do."