Ray Gaddis thrives on preparation.
His speed takes care of everything else.
Gaddis has easily been one of the Philadelphia Union’s most valuable players through the first eight matches. In fact, the ever-improving defender has played every single minute of each match for the Union this season, including Saturday's affair against the Houston Dynamo before 17,301 at PPL Park.
Gaddis watches a plethora of film each week, and it’s common for him to view the same match film several times to pick up even the smallest detail moving forward.
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Gaddis played and started in 31 games last season, logging 2,703 minutes.
On April 13, 2013, he kept the club’s playoff hopes alive in using his speed to run down Toronto FC’s Robert Earnshaw. It was one of the more memorable plays last season.
In the offseason, Gaddis never stopped working.
“This year’s offseason training, I just played on the left side,” Gaddis said. “Even when I do play on the right side, I just feel more comfortable and it showed in both games (this season). Keeping possession, getting up and down the field, I kept working, went back and watched film. We played a lot of close games last year and I kept thinking, ‘How can you get better? How can you help the Philadelphia Union? How can you take your game to the next level?’”
Gaddis has taken his game to the next level by playing technically sound, by playing physical when needed and by making big plays every time the Union perform.
He never seems to get tired.
“Just preparing my body this past offseason, I knew I was going to have a three-game stretch early in seven nights,” Gaddis said. “It’s all about a balance, getting the proper rest. The coaching staff has been doing a great job of monitoring players because I feel like we’ve had the toughest schedule this year like Real Salt Lake and Portland, one-two in the West and we played Red Bull, too. They’ve (technical staff) done a tremendous job. It’s about taking care of yourself and keeping the right mental attitude.”
Gaddis was the 35th overall pick by the Union in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
He’s had to fight, scrap and work for everything to become a key contributor in this league. Just because he hasn’t come off the pitch yet doesn’t mean he takes anything for granted. It’s just the opposite with Gaddis.
If it’s possible, he’s working harder.
“I keep the same mentality as I did as a rookie,” Gaddis said. “Where I was taken in the draft, I always try to put the team first. For me, every day is a blessing to play the game that I love. I just approach it that way and I feel that everything else will fall into place. I have to continue to work on my game and get better and I feel like I’ve gotten better every year.”
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org