CHICAGO — The Union re-signed out-of-contract outside back Ray Gaddis on Wednesday, bringing back the team’s all-time minutes leader to be a glue guy in the locker room.
Gaddis, 28, has been with the Union since 2012. He officially became the Union’s all-time iron man late last summer, and now has a total of 16,423 minutes played across 192 games in all competitions.
There is some doubt, though, about how many more minutes Gaddis will add to the record. Though he was a stalwart shutdown defender for a long time, his skills waned a bit last year. And he doesn’t quite fit an era when outside backs are expected to make significant contributions to the attack.
Gaddis got forward more in 2018 than he did in previous seasons, taking 11 shots, but still has only eight assists in his career. His two assists last year tied his single-season record.
When the Union traded Keegan Rosenberry last month, sporting director Ernst Tanner signaled that Olivier Mbaizo is on track to be the starting right back, with Gaddis as the backup.
Tanner also noted correctly that Gaddis' natural position is right back, but he was deployed at left back out of necessity for much of last year. That isn’t expected to happen this year.
“When [Gaddis] plays on the left-hand side, sometimes he’s a little bit lost," Tanner said after the Rosenberry trade. “I expect him to do much better on the right.”
This much is certain: Gaddis has impeccable character, is a great influence in the locker room, loves teaching young players, and is the Union’s finest community ambassador. His many acts of service around the region — sometimes publicized, but often just of his own volition — have made him well-regarded beyond just the soccer scene.
Those traits, Tanner said in a statement, are a big part of why the Union brought Gaddis back.
“He is a tireless worker with an incredible heart and attitude to match,” Tanner said. "A crucial part of our locker room, he provides an excellent veteran presence on and off the field. He also serves as a role model for our younger players, particularly our young fullbacks.”
B.J. Callaghan, a longtime Union assistant coach, is leaving the team to join the U.S. men’s national team coaching staff. A source confirmed the news to the Inquirer and Daily News on Wednesday evening, a few hours after it was first reported by The Athletic.