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Ray Gaddis announces his retirement

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union right back Ray Gaddis unexpectedly announced his retirement Thursday.

Gaddis, 31, played nine seasons for the Union and holds the club records for most appearances, starts, and minutes played. He has been the Union’s go-to starting right back for much of his career, rising from unheralded rookie to beloved team player and annually defying expectations that he would be replaced. He never was.

“I’m truly blessed to have played professionally for nine seasons and for the experiences, friendships and unique moments that have come with it,” Gaddis said. “Over the course of my career, fans have become family, coaches have become life-long mentors, and my teammates have become brothers.”

At his peak, Gaddis was one of the best one-on-one defenders in MLS. Union head coach Jim Curtin termed his side of the field “Gaddis Island” for how he could shut down wingers and forwards coming in off his wing. Offensively, he was more limited, but he consistently held off challengers for his starting spot. In his final regular season game, he started and walked off with the Supporters’ Shield Trophy, the Union’s first.

Off the field, Gaddis cofounded Black Players for Change, an organization of MLS players speaking out against racism, and in the process was part of a group that earned the MLS Humanitarian of the Year award. He was a consistently classy locker room presence for the team, a quiet man known for his quick smile, strong faith, and tucked-in jersey.

“Ray is an incredibly special player and has been an important part of our locker room,” Curtin said. “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. He gave everything he had every time he stepped on the field and his passion and dedication will be missed.

The announcement comes as a surprise to outside observers, with training camp just opening for the Union, and it leaves a significant gap in the starting lineup. Olivier Mbaizo stands as the most likely replacement of those players currently on the roster. He performed fairly well in a career high 12 starts last year when Gaddis was injured, but his play has also not matched the consistency of Gaddis thus far.

17 Comments

  1. Class act all around, and never seemed to flinch, even when nearly everyone was looking to “upgrade” his RB spot. Steady, fast, hard to get past, and by all indications a great leader and teammate. Sad to see him go this soon. Nothing but the best to Ray in his future endeavors – he did us proud during his 9 years.

  2. I loved him. The type of player you need in MLS as most folks don’t understand that right back is the last place you are going to spend money on. Class individual and hope to see him be a permanent feature in the club’s management structure.

  3. Tim Jones says:

    The Gaddis news educes the number of certain senior roster players to 14. They are required to have 18.
    .
    There are clear hints that Joe Bendik and Aurelien Collin will be signed to new contracts, probably at lower levels of compensation. They would raise the senior roster number to 16.
    .
    And two current supplemental roster slot players are in their option years and could be signed to senior roster deals, or, indeed, could be promoted to the senior roster on their current deals. They are Anthony Fontana and Matt Real.

  4. Godspeed, Ray Gaddis, and I sincerely hope that you are found in the offices of this team for years to come. If not, they will have missed a true opportunity.

  5. John Ling says:

    If you look up “Class Act” in the dictionary, you’ll simply see a picture of Ray Gaddis.
    .
    While I sometimes had my issues with Ray Gaddis the player, I never, ever had anything but the utmost respect for Ray Gaddis the person. Best wishes to you in the next chapter of your life, Ray – whatever and wherever that may be. I look forward to your induction into the Ring of Honor someday, hopefully soon and in front of a packed house!

  6. As I posted in social media circles today– though with less indignation then I have argued with in the past because it was so fatiguing…’At least now I will no longer have to read innane comments about Ray Gaddis’s limitations at the expense of what he did just about better than any other right back in the league… DEFEND.
    .
    Absolute Union legend and the best defender the team has ever had. I’ve argued for over two years… Ring of Honor. If he’s not on your Unioin Rushmore as Kevin Kinkhead likes to play around with… I want what you’re smoking.
    .
    Ring
    of
    Honor.
    .

  7. Gruncle Bob says:

    Ray has always been a player who gave 100% and I respect him and wish him well.

    But…

    What aren’t we being told? Why, and especially why now – 3 days after workouts started? It just doesn’t make any sense at all.

    • It may have personal reasons. In Curtains farewell he vaguely refers to “family issues”. Hopefully it’s nothing serious and he’s able to enjoy the next phase of his life.

  8. Ray is the epitome of Class Act indeed, and I am proud of his activism off the field.

    But this is pretty shocking. Guy was the starting RB for the top team in the league, and he just… pulls the plug?? I can only assume his family situation is a serious one. I really wish him all the best. He’s a lock for the 2nd spot in the Ring of Honor.

    Meanwhile this is seriously bad timing for us. Ernst better start scouring the Bundesliga 2. and 3. to see if he can find us a bookend for Kai Wagner…

    • T.Coolguy says:

      Makes me really hope Nate Harriel is the real deal and a quick learner. Mbaizo is ok as a reserve or as a starter on a team with low ambition, but he isn’t good enough to start every day for a club that wants to contend for honors.

  9. Delco Roots says:

    I only wish Ray had been able to score one goal at Talen before he decided to move to the next chapter of his life. However, what a pleasure to watch such a responsible defensive player, and a man who set the standard as a professional athlete role model. Congratulations and good luck, Ray.

  10. Best wishes to Ray! Always a great defender! Always working on his offensive game! True class! True Ring of Honor !! Awesome guy! Godspeed!!

  11. Shocking. A gut punch. As a Ray detractor for many years, I can honestly say a season without him almost seems unthinkable. I’m really saddened by this. I wish Ray all the best, he deserves it.

  12. OneManWolfpack says:

    Ray never got his goal… and we never got to riot. Ah well… best wishes Ray! You will certainly be missed on multiple levels. Next stop… Ring of Honor.

  13. Buccistick says:

    Just chiming in belatedly to elaborate on one stat, and add another.
    *
    Those club record minutes add up to nearly
    *
    19,000
    *
    In all that time defending in MLS, Ray racked up …
    *
    0 red cards.
    *
    But you probably knew that.
    *
    Thank you, 28. Godspeed.

  14. Ring of Honor lock. Thank you, Ray. All the best to you and your loved ones.

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