While it has been a disappointing season for the Union, one of the pleasant surprises has been the play of rookie defender Ray Gaddis. He was the No. 35 selection in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft out of the University of West Virginia, and quite frankly, there weren’t many expectations that he would see the field.
Gaddis made his 12th appearance and 11th start in Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Houston Dynamo and he enjoyed an outstanding game.
Not only defensively, but his long run and cross helped set up the game’s first goal by Freddy Adu.
Gaddis had gone the previous three games without playing. Team manager John Hackworth said that defender Gabe Farfan was banged up, thus giving Gaddis his chance. The pre-game report listed Farfan as having a right ankle contusion.
So Gaddis came in and was a major factor in the Union snapping an eight-game winless streak.
“Ray was excellent, the way he got forward in the first half the energy that he brought and his defensive responsibility,”Hackworth said. “…I can’t say enough about that kid and what he brings every single day,”
Hackworth understands it is not easy to get Gaddis playing time, but he’s happy at how the rookie has responded.
“Right now he’s playing behind Sheanon Williams and that’s tough but he shows his quality every time he’s on the field,” Hackworth said. “He’s battling in there and took a couple bangs early in the match.”
Gaddis entered the game looking to play aggressively, which meant making several offensive runs.
“I was trying to get on the attack and help the team any way I could today,” he said.
Gaddis says whether he gets in the game or not, his main objective has been to learn as much as possible and to keep improving.
“For a rookie here when I don’t play I learn a lot off the field and when I do play I learn a lot on the field,” he said. “…Every situation has been a learning experience for me so far this rookie season and I will continue to enjoy it.”
What he enjoyed most was being part of a win that snapped an eight-game winless streak, when the Union went 0-4-4.
“I was happy we got the three points and to see the locker room up-tempo and smiling,” he said. “This is what it is all about.”