Philadelphia Union's Raymon Gaddis embraces move to left back, chance to shut down league's top players
CHESTER, Pa. – For most of his life, Raymon Gaddis has played on the right side of the field.
But with Sheanon Williams entrenched at right back for the Philadelphia Union, the second-year defender has shifted to left back this season, where one of the requirements of the job has often been marking the other team’s top offensive player.
Has that part been difficult?
“Not at all,” Gaddis said. “Chris Pontius didn’t do too much last game. And Eddie Gaven didn’t do anything as well. So I embrace it.”
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Having that kind of confidence has certainly made the transition easier for Gaddis, who started only half of the team’s 34 games as a rookie out of West Virginia last year.
But so far this season, Gaddis has played all but 11 minutes, even though Union manager John Hackworth had initially stated in the preseason that Gabriel Farfan would be the team’s first-choice left back.
“I’m really happy for Ray,” Hackworth said. “Any time you get an opportunity as a player and you take advantage of it and play as well as he has in the early part of the season, I think that says a lot about Ray, it says a lot about his teammates and the support he has around him. I hope that continues.”
A noted student of the game, Gaddis has watched a lot of film to help him develop from an overwhelmed rookie to a steady second-year player. The toughest part of switching to left back, he said, is dealing with the new angles and “the way the ball flies in.”
But when it comes to containing star forwards and right midfielders week in and week out, Gaddis thinks he’s done a good job. And he hopes that continues Saturday when the Union face New England on Saturday at Gillette Stadium (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“The transition with the coaching staff and veteran players like Chris Albright helping me along, it’s been an easy one I would say so far,” he said. “I still have a lot to learn. I still can get better in every aspect. But it’s been good so far.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.