Player Name: Raymon Gaddis
Position: Left Back (Converted from Right back)
Stats: 0 goals, 0 assists this season
Minutes played: 2703
Appearances: 31 starts in 31 appearances
Gaddis, the former second round pick from West Virginia, came into the season competing for a starting spot on the team. He lost the battle for his natural position of right back to Sheanon Williams in training camp, but eventually won the left back starting slot. Gaddis started the last eight games of the 2012 season at left back with mixed results.
Gaddis didn't pick up the left back position right away. He seemed to always get caught out of position, and often his excellent recovery speed wasn't enough to cover up for his mistakes. Opposing defenses targeted him as the backline's weakest link and attacked down the right flank repeatedly. In addition he had difficulty adding to the Union attack since he couldn't cross into the box without cutting back on his dominant right foot. The low point of his season was a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the Galaxy, where Landon Donovan repeatedly caught Raymon out of position and put away a few goals as a result.
However, as the season progressed, Gaddis's confidence grew, and his excellent one-on-one defending started to show more often. Like many players on the roster, Gaddis also has a terrific work-rate. When he makes a mistake, Gaddis uses his outstanding speed and tremendous motor to cover up for his mistake. As Gaddis got more comfortable in the left back slot, the mistakes started to fade away. Perhaps his shining moment of the season was his performance against Toronto FC last month after Fabinho was sent off. Gaddis served as a sweeper while the Union maintained a relentless attack despite being a man down. He was called into service a couple times to suffocate a couple of Toronto counterattacks. Ray's efforts helped keep the away team off the scoreboard until Jose Kleberson scored the glorious free kick in stoppage time that sent PPL Park into hysterics.
If Hackworth plans on switching to a 4-3-3, I imagine the coaching staff will want to sign a more natural left back that adds to the attack. Nevertheless, Gaddis will battle Sheanon Williams for the right back slot once again. Two talented young players competing for the same starting spot is a problem the Union should welcome, especially considering the lack of talent on the bench. If Ray Gaddis can work on adding more to the attacking part of his game during the off-season, John Hackworth might be forced to give the kid from Indianapolis a few starts on the right side.