There will be no riot when Ray Gaddis scores. At least not in an MLS game.
The veteran 31-year-old Philadelphia Union right back announced his retirement on Thursday after nine seasons with the club that drafted him out of West Virginia University in 2012.
He ends his career having lifted the Supporters’ Shield trophy in November and is the all-time club leader in appearances, starts and minutes played.
“I first and foremost want to thank God for allowing me to have the career I’ve had,” Gaddis said. “I’m truly blessed to have played professionally for nine seasons and for the experiences, friendships and unique moments that have come with it. Over the course of my career, fans have become family, coaches have become life-long mentors, and my teammates have become brothers.”
Gaddis played in 221 regular season matches, started 211 and added 10 assists along the way. Gaddis would go on to set numerous records for the Union, including games played, games started, minutes played, and is tied for most matches played in a single season (34). He became the first player in Union history to reach 200 games played and 200 starts.
“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching Ray since he was drafted in 2012,” said head coach Jim Curtin. “Ray is an incredibly special player and has been an important part of our locker room. He exemplifies what a role model should be on and off the field. He has been with this team through every up and down, his belief in this team and organization never wavering.”
Prior to turning professional, Gaddis was an All-American in both high school and in college at West Virginia University, where he led the Mountaineers to two NCAA tournament appearances and was named all-Big East both as a junior and senior. He spent two summers playing for Reading United.
While fans were sometimes divided at times on his abilities on the field, there was no question the impact he made on the team on and off the field. He was outspoken about his faith, speaking at post-game faith night events in Chester and committed to serving both the community here and back home in Indiana by feeding the homeless and speaking out about societal injustices.
He was one of the founding members last summer of MLS Black Players for Change, an organization formed to address systemic racism, elevate black voices and address inequities found across the broader soccer landscape.
While a surprise, Gaddis’s retirement opens a competition at right back between Olivier Mbaizo and homegrown Nathan Harriel that will be interesting to keep an eye on as the season approaches, especially with the possibility of Mbaizo getting called up for international duty with Cameroon.