Sheanon Williams had a pretty accurate assessment of Philadelphia Union teammate Ray Gaddis’ performance Sunday against Houston.
“Ray was roasting people, huh?” Williams said.
Yes, he was.
Getting the start on the backline in place of banged-up left back Gabriel Farfan (right ankle contusion), Gaddis used his blazing speed to make a few long runs forward, including one that set up the team’s first goal in Philly’s 3-1 win over the Dynamo, a result that snapped an eight-game winless skid.
“Ray was excellent,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “The way he got forward in the first half, the energy that he brought, his defensive responsibility – I can’t say enough about the kid and what he brings every single day. Right now he’s playing behind Sheanon Williams and that’s tough. But he shows his qualities every time he’s on the field.”
Although Williams and Gaddis are both right backs, Williams moved over to the left side of the defense Sunday to allow Gaddis to play where he’s most comfortable. The change worked well as Philly’s backline limited Houston’s attack, while both Williams and Gaddis made their presence felt going forward.
“He’s a hard-working guy and he fits into our backline pretty seamlessly,” Williams said. “Whether I have to shift over to the left or I’m down, he always fills in and does what the team needs him to do. He’s a good team guy.”
Sunday’s game marked the 11th start of the season for Gaddis but just his third in the past 15 games. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, though, the rookie out of West Virginia says his mentality never changes.
“Hackworth just said to be ready and I just said, ‘Yes sir,’” Gaddis said. “That was the end of the conversation.”
The humble rookie then let his play on the field do the talking by not only defending well but finding big holes in the middle of the field and accelerating toward goal.
“I just try to get something out of it,” Gaddis said of his attacking forays, “because it’s a long way back.”
He definitely got something out of it on Sunday.
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow Dave on Twitter @davezeitlin