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2014 Philadelphia Union Player Review: Ray Gaddis

2014 was the finest season in the career of Raymon Gaddis. The modern game appreciates fullbacks who provide offensive width, and an overlapping option with which to achieve such. Ray's position, however, calls for him primarily to prevent goals, not create them.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Season Summary

It bears repeating that 2014 was the finest season in the career of Raymon Gaddis. The right-back-made-to-play-left-back by the Philadelphia Union was the team's best defensive player, and in my opinion, second in the team's most valuable player conversation to Vincent Nogueira. The trademark of Gaddis' game is his ability to recover when an opposing rush gets beyond him on his wing. His foot speed is unequaled among his teammates, which makes him indispensable. His two assists notched were a new career high for him in his three seasons thus far.

What Did He Do Right?

Be available. Ray played the most minutes of any outfield player during 2014, with 3,051. In the franchise's brief history, only Sebastien Le Toux in 2011, when he played all 3,600 minutes, played more. He is equally adept on either wing, as he filled in for Sheanon Williams during periods of injury or suspension. His best attribute is his closing speed, allowing him to close in on opposition attackers before they can control the ball. His plus-level athleticism allows for him to make goal-saving tackles in desperate situations, leaving his feet to deftly dispossess opponents of the ball without committing a foul. A noticeable area of improvement from 2013 was Ray's strength. He was less prone to being muscled off of balls, and was more successful in shepherding errant passes over the end line.

What Did He Do Wrong?

The lone knock against him comes from his contribution to the offense. He is awkward in his 1-on-1 engagement with defenders when marauding forward, and Gaddis is not a skillful crosser either. The modern game appreciates fullbacks who provide offensive width and an overlapping option with which to achieve such. Ray's position, however, calls for him primarily to prevent goals, not create them. In his assigned position, he is among MLS' best (in this writer's humble opinion).

2014 Most Memorable Moment

He made Sports Illustrated's Team of the Week in Week 3 for his assist on Leo Fernandes' goal against the Crew in Columbus as well as his strong defense, though the result was a Union loss.

Future Expectations

Much of Union's goal-concession woes can be linked to their inconsistency of their center backs. The personnel shuffle to Gaddis' right set the stage for disjointed communication and substandard marking understanding. Philadelphia allowed far too many goals to be considered a serious playoff contender. In a season wrought with defensive inconsistency Ray Gaddis was a beacon, giving the team a glimpse of what could be. He'll enter the 2015 season at age 25, and hopefully with some skill development still to do. I would expect him to be a better left-footed crosser of the ball, and position himself better as he works with a hopefully more consistent set of center backs.