In the jubilant Philadelphia Union locker room, Ray Gaddis was sprawled out on the floor stretching in front of his locker.
He had every reason to be exhausted.
He also had every reason to be exhilarated following one of the most dramatic victories in the club’s four-year history.
Let the record show that Kleberson earned the game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC Saturday in front of an overflow sellout crowd of 18,996 at PPL Park.
Let the record show that Gaddis made a scintillating play shortly before Kleberson’s goal at the end of six minutes of stoppage time. The second-year defender broke off after a corner kick, sprinted down the pitch and eventually erased a potential goal-scoring chance by Robert Earnshaw.
It was the type of play that allowed the match to stay even, setting up Kleberson.
“It’s just a matter of that we want to make the playoffs,” Gaddis said. “Play today, live tomorrow, it’s a cliché, but that’s all that was going through my head. Everybody needs to sacrifice down the stretch these last three remaining games. It was just a matter of sacrificing for your team. I was tired but you have to get through it.”
Gaddis sure didn’t look tired at that moment.
“At that moment, I just blacked out,” Gaddis said. “You just run and don’t give up. You keep pushing and pushing.”
The Union climbed back into fifth place in the Eastern Conference with their second consecutive victory. Had Gaddis not been able to make that play, the Union may not have gotten the three coveted points.
“I haven’t had a chance to digest the game,” Gaddis said. “I’m just out there trying to help my team win. It wasn’t just me. Everybody was sacrificing. We’re working toward getting to the playoffs. We know how big each game is for us.”
Gaddis’ speed has been evident all season.
Down a man and with the season on the line, it was the kind of effort that must be recognized.
“We’ve seen Ray do that in training,” said Sebastien Le Toux. “He’s one of the fastest (players), if not the fastest player on our team. He made that play at a big time. He ran it down after the corner and it was an awesome play. It helped us get the win. Most people aren’t going to catch Ray in a 30-yard or 40-yard race. He ran Earnshaw down and took a great line to get to him and break up the play.
“It came at a time when we needed it. Thankfully, we were able to get a goal and come away with the three points. Full credit to Ray for that play.”
Midfielder Danny Cruz continues to be in awe of Gaddis’ effort. Watching that play unfold was special.
“He did it twice,” Cruz said of Gaddis. “It’s what makes us a team. He could have easily given up, two-on-one, three-on-one, down a man. Credit to him because he’s someone who never gives up. He’s exhausted and he runs that play down. This is the kind of play that can get you in the playoffs. It’s a true sign of who we are as a team.”
For Gaddis, it was simply a sign of who he is at all times.
“I’m going to give everything I have until I have nothing left,” Gaddis said. “I will play with every ounce of energy for my team.”
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org