Gaddis showing no ill effects from an ankle injury amounts to dominant defense for Union
Well, it looks like Ray Gaddis' sprained ankle is fine.
Philadelphia's starting fullback returned to action Saturday night after missing three straight games to injury.
Maybe not coincidentally, the Union defense rebounded from a five goal letdown against New England to earn a clean sheet against first place Montreal.
"It definitely felt good to be back out there," Gaddis said. "I mean, this is what I love to do. It felt good to help the team get a shutout. It was good on the athletic training staff and the coaches just monitoring me each and every day. I tried to do more and more and they did a great job of helping me get there. They wanted me to get back quickly but also take my time and get back the right way.”
With Amobi Okugo missing through suspension, starting right back Sheanon Williams was moved inside to cover at center back. That allowed Gaddis to play in his natural right sided position with Fabinho over at left back.
On the night against Montreal, the Union defense allowed just four total shots. Only one shot was put on target with one attempt blocked and two others driven wide.
“You've just got to stay ready for whenever the coach puts you in a different position," said Gaddis. "It was no different. You just have to go out and play. I am right footed, so of course I feel more comfortable, but I am just happy that we got another shutout -- Zac [MacMath] got another shutout. The defense, we played collectively from the top, from Conor Casey and Jack McInerney all the way back to Zac we played collectively good defense, that is a positive to take out of the game.”
Individually, Gaddis was matched up with Andres Romero on the left side of the Montreal formation. The Argentine, who troubled Philadelphia earlier this season, was just nine for 22 in passing accuracy and became dispossessed of the ball 15 times.
The Impact swapped off Romero in the second half and tried to run Sanna Nyassi against Gaddis. The smaller, faster winger had more passing success, but played the majority of his 22 completions laterally to the central midfield. The Union fullback was able to match the substitute's speed on the flank and shepherd him horizontally inside.
"Two crafty players, one more speedy than the other," Gaddis explained. "You've just got to watch the ball. I think, as a defender, that's one of my best traits, rather than watching the movements of the player. Each player is definitely difficult to defend, but if you want to be a superior defender, you've to shut those players down."
Even playing out of position at left back, Gaddis has proved to be arguably the best 1v1 defender on the Union roster this season. At five foot nine, the 151 pound fullback is slight of frame but uses his recovery speed and positioning to great effect.
“Both Sheanon and Ray were really good tonight," manager John Hackworth said. "We limited the number of opportunities that Montreal had significantly. So those guys were excellent. Our whole defense. Jeff Parke was really good organizing it tonight, Fabinho was really good. Zac was good. So team effort defensively, that was accomplished.”
Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at firstname.lastname@example.org