While it’s the teenage center backs in the middle and a resurgent Keegan Rosenberry who have gotten a bulk of the attention this season on the Union back line, the job veteran leader Raymon Gaddis has done in recent weeks at left back deserves mention too.
During his seven starts this season, the Union have won four times and conceded only nine times. For the season, the Union back line as a whole has conceded just 16 times, which is third-best in the conference.
“It’s a blessing to play for the gold and blue,” Gaddis said in an interview last week.
Gaddis, who is third all-time in club history with more than 154 appearances since being drafted in 2012 out West Virginia University, was not a starter heading into the season but didn’t allow himself to become content with his lack of playing time. His first start came in a road loss at FC Dallas.
“Everyone’s been putting in work,” he said. “We’re a team. It’s not just me.”
This team-first mindset is key for the Union as Gaddis is one of the team’s most senior members both in experience with the club and in age at 28. With such a youthful side, a role model like Gaddis is vital for continued success at the club, which head coach Jim Curtin noted in his presser earlier this week.
“Whatever the team needs he brings to the game, whatever the game calls upon he’s ready to pitch in any way, shape or form,” Curtin said. “He’s still in the prime of his career but he is a veteran now and has taken on a bigger leadership role with the group which is something that is great to see. I’m really happy with the way he’s playing and performing right now.”
Though not known for his offense — he’s yet to score a goal in his career — Gaddis has been active in the final third in recent weeks registering a shot in three of his last four games and recording a pair of assists, which matches a career high set when he started all 34 games in 2014.
Gaddis also isn’t a natural left back like fellow veteran Fabinho and 18-year-old homegrown Matthew Real, who despite some struggles remains a promising future prospect to take over the position full time in the next year or two.
Whether he’s playing left back or called to fill in for Keegan Rosenberry — as he did for much of last season when Rosenberry’s form took a dip — Gaddis is someone Curtin can count on both on the field and off.
“Ray is a true professional because there’s a lot of moments even in this season that he could be disappointed with me and the coaching staff for not giving him opportunities earlier,” Curtin said. “He’s a true professional, brings it every day, not just on the field but off the field. It’s in the weight room, in the film room. I have nothing but respect for him the way he carries himself.”