The Philadelphia Union will shortly get underway with 2021 training camp, but they’ll be without a friendly face in the locker room going forward as a franchise.
Longtime defender Ray Gaddis announced his decision to retire from Major League Soccer on Thursday. The right-back, and nine-season Union veteran, has decided to hang up his playing cleats after registering one of the best careers in the blue and gold of the team’s colors.
A former draft pick by the Union in 2012, Gaddis would go on to become the all-time club leader in appearances (221), starts (211), and minutes played (18,702). He registered 10 assists in his MLS career and helped the Union bring home the 2020 Supporters’ Shield, a first trophy in club history.
“I first and foremost want to thank God for allowing me to have the career I’ve had. I’m truly blessed to have played professionally for nine seasons and for the experiences, friendships and unique moments that have come with it,” said Gaddis. “Over the course of my career, fans have become family, coaches have become life-long mentors, and my teammates have become brothers. I’d like to thank the Philadelphia Union owners, past and present coaches and teammates, and the Union staff.”
“I also want to give a special thank you to my family, to my lovely wife Violet and to my parents Ricky and Katrina Gaddis, whom without this journey simply would not have been possible. I will miss this organization and my team very much, but I am able to retire knowing I left everything on the pitch and proud of what we have accomplished together. I very much look forward to what the future holds, and, in my heart, I will be forever Philly.”
In his nine seasons with the club, 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.
Prior to turning professional, Gaddis was an All-American in both high school and in college at the University of West Virginia, where he led the Mountaineers to two NCAA tournament appearances and was named all-Big East both as a junior and senior. Gaddis also played a vital role in the community in both Philadelphia and his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, while also being a member of the MLS’ Black Players for Change, an organization formed to address systemic racism, elevate black voices, and address inequities found across the broader soccer landscape.
“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching Ray since he was drafted in 2012,” said Union 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. He gave everything he had every time he stepped on the field and his passion and dedication will be missed. It has been an honor to have been able to coach him his entire professional career and know he will be successful in his future endeavors.”
Gaddis’ departure will now see both Olivier Mbaizo and Matt Real fight for minutes at right back, with Kai Wagner projected to once again be a key contributor at left back.