Ray Gaddis is not only one of the fastest players on the Philadelphia Union but one of the fastest players in all of Major League Soccer.
What sets the second-year defender apart from most players is his work ethic on and off the field.
Yes, he’s fast and he knows it. That’s why he works just as hard on his conditioning routine in the weight room and in the film room.
Gaddis even has his own personal film room.
In the offseason, he watched film of every Union match two or three times. He wanted to dissect every minute detail, every miniscule thing he could see to help his overall game.
This is all from a player who just completed his rookie season after being the 35th overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
“I enjoyed my family for the first part of the offseason,” Gaddis said after a recent training session. “After that, I picked up some weight, got faster. I definitely worked on my technical aspects of my game. And I watched every game at least two or three times (on film) to see what I did wrong or what I can do to get better for next season. As a player, you’ve got to think of it as being a student of the game. It’s not just watching your team, but it’s watching the opposition and what their tendencies are.
“What I can do better to help the team and what I can do to help turn it into more wins for the team next season. I mean, like I said, you’ve got to be a student of the game. If you want to be better, I always push myself to be better than yesterday or better than the day before. For me, that was very important to see what I can better and to help the team move forward.”
As a rookie, Gaddis played in 18 league matches with 17 starts. He had one assist and showed tremendous consistency on the backline as his minutes increased.
When the season concluded, it was on to 2013 in every aspect imaginable.
“For me, I never feel comfortable about anything,” Gaddis said. “I know, as a player, you always have to prepare because people are getting better as well and as for comfortability, I feel comfortable. As a player, you can never feel too comfortable.
“It’s just trusting myself, most importantly. I learned a lot from a tactical standpoint on how to play the game and from a technical standpoint. Just get better. My parents reiterate that. You can always get better.”
The Union made a number of changes in the offseason to improve the club. Gaddis is thrilled to be part of the organization.
Clearly, he’s prepared to do anything possible to keep his spot.
“Most definitely, I look at the big picture,” Gaddis said. “This is a team game. It’s not an individual game. You have to let the management and coaching staff to build the core of players and as a player, you have to do what you can to prepare and plan to be ready when they call on you.
“Competition makes you a better player and helps you get ready for the season because it brings out the best in everyone.”
Seeing all that action on film has made Gaddis a better player.
“I think so,” he said. “I see not only what I was able to do, but what the other team was doing against me and against our club. I watched every minute of every game as I said at least two or three times. I know it will help in the long run.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com