Ray Gaddis: 200th start and a lasting legacy

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Philadelphia Union right back Ray Gaddis made his 200th career start with the club Tuesday night, solidifying his place in club history as the longest-tenured player with the most games played and minutes logged.

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday night marked the 200th start in his 211th career match with Philadelphia. He’s played nearly 18,000 minutes in the blue and gold. And he’s done so with unmatched professionalism both on and off the field.

Head coach Jim Curtin made no mention of Gaddis’ milestone, but he most likely will spend time chatting about one of the more reliable players on his roster for the better part of the last decade sometime this week when he speaks with reporters next.

And you can expect high praise from Curtin. And rightly so.

Gaddis, the 30-year old Indianapolis native, made his Union debut back on April 14th of 2012 when he started at home in a 1-0 win against Columbus Crew SC. Later that season, Gaddis would take hold of the right-back spot earning an impressive 30 straight regular-season matches from mid-April of 2012 running into the following season in early August of 2013. From that moment on, Gaddis would remain a mainstay in the starting XI until 2016 when Keegan Rosenberry joined the club.

After a year and a half of battling for time with Rosenberry, eventually, Gaddis’ hard-work and professionalism allowed him to regain that starting spot. Rosenberry was sent to Colorado, and the right-back spot once more belonged to Gaddis.

Last season, Gaddis was perhaps the most important player on the pitch during Philadelphia’s extended stay atop the Eastern Conference table early in the year and short but exciting MLS Cup Playoff run which ended in disappointing fashion in Atlanta with a 2-0 loss.

More recently, Gaddis has become a beacon of hope for many. His off-field activism combined with his humble nature in the locker room makes him a unique but crucial player on Curtin’s roster.

In the light of increased police brutality resulting in the senseless murders of far too many African Americans, Gaddis played an instrumental role in the creation of the Black Players for Change organization, helped spur political action with peaceful protests in Indianapolis, and represented the Union on national platforms like ESPN while discussing racial equality.

He also made a courageous decision to honor Breonna Taylor, an African American medical worker who was killed by police in Louisville, by wearing her name on the back of his jersey about a week and a half ago. He was a key figure in deciding to have names of African Americans killed at the hands of police on the backs of the team kits as well.

The Black Players for Change and MLS Players Association joined forces for a stunning and profound protest before MLS is Back kicked off. Gaddis was influential in this project too.

He’s been something like an unstoppable force when it comes to his influence on his teammates and fellow MLS players. Mark McKenzie and Warren Creavalle have recently become activists in their own ways. Creavalle designed the snazzy Black Lives Matter t-shirts and a variety of facial mask with unique phrases for all MLS players, coaches, and staff to wear for the extent of the MLS is Back tournament.

Oh, and one more thing about Gaddis. He went back to school in 2019 to earn a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications with his alma mater West Virginia University while completing a Crossover to Business program with Harvard Business School.

For Gaddis, his 200th start may not be very meaningful given the current climate we all live in. And he’d be right to feel that way. But 200 starts for one club with nearly 18,000 minutes logged is one hell of an accomplishment. And Philly should be very proud to have him in the locker room, in the community, and most importantly in the Union family for life.

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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