Gad­dis doesn’t need to score to be ef­fec­tive

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS - By Matthew DeGe­orge mde­ge­orge@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @sports­doc­tormd on Twit­ter

CH­ESTER » When Union man­ager Jim Curtin pen­ciled Ray Gad­dis into the start­ing lineup in Mon­treal last Satur­day, he ex­pected the vet­eran to pro­vide a lock­down pres­ence at the back in un­friendly en­vi­rons.

He didn’t ex­pect Gad­dis to stream for­ward in the 15th minute and lash a shot on goal from 20 yards out, no mean feat for a team that has found of­fense hard to come by and hadn’t scored in its first four road games of the sea­son. And he didn’t nec­es­sar­ily count on, in the per­pet­ual search for that ever elu­sive “fi­nal ball,” that Gad­dis would pro­vide one in the 43rd minute, a cross right to the head of Cory Burke for what proved to be the game-win­ner in a 2-0 vic­tory.

“When I saw him fly for­ward early in the first half, I think it was Andrew Far­rell who had just scored his first goal for his career,” Curtin said Wed­nes­day with a lit­tle mirth in his voice. “I don’t be­lieve Ray has one. You start to see him run for­ward like that and you think, maybe he’s got it in him to go score a goal. He took what the de­fense gave him on that play.”

Gad­dis doesn’t have a goal, not that that’s much news. The full­back has played 151 games in MLS; his as­sist to Burke was the sev­enth of his career. He’s played the sev­enth-most games in MLS his­tory with­out a goal — that honor goes to Toronto de­fender Ja­son Her­nan­dez, who is at 288 and count­ing. Next in Gad­dis’ sights are Rusty Pierce (155 score­less games from 200007 with three teams) and Car­los Men­des (158 from 2005-12 with the Red Bulls and Colum­bus).

Curtin ref­er­enced Far­rell, the New Eng­land de­fender who this sea­son scored his first MLS goal in more than 160 games in the league. That kind of drough­t­end­ing wasn’t in the off­ing for Gad­dis Satur­day, but his con­tri­bu­tions far ex­ceed those two num­bers on the score sheet.

“Right now, I think not only for my­self but ev­ery­body, who­ever scores, that’s great,” Gad­dis said Thurs­day. “But we’re think­ing about the end re­sult in the col­umn where it says we win the game. I think about win­ning the game. I don’t care how it goes in or who scores; I care about win­ning the game more than scor­ing a goal. If it comes, it’s a blessing but we want to win games.”

Gad­dis has made a name in Philly with his abil­ity to con­trib­ute with­out get­ting on the score sheet, and it’s come with re­mark­able re­silience. Curtin re­gards him as among the best oneon-one de­fend­ers in the league, and while he’s not the most dy­namic out­side back in terms of his abil­ity to at­tack and de­fend, he’s a known com­mod­ity. Curtin can de­pend on what he’s go­ing to get when Gad­dis plays: Steady de­fense, lots of hus­tle and lead­er­ship.

With a pas­sel of more skilled play­ers on the Union ros­ter who have un­der­achieved, that cer­tainty is even more wel­comed in the right cir­cum­stances, like a daunt­ing away game in Mon­treal.

“Ev­ery game’s dif­fer­ent,” Gad­dis said. “We take what the op­pos­ing team is giv­ing you. It was a good team per­for­mance. It wasn’t nec­es­sar­ily me; it was a col­lec­tive group per­for­mance. The team, ev­ery­body played well, and that’s what I take from it. Ev­ery­body played their role lead­ing up to it, and I just did my job.”

Re­silience is also some­thing Gad­dis has in abun­dance. He’s been blown back and forth by the winds of fa­vor in Philadel­phia — go­ing from the out-and­out starter at right back in 2015 to be­ing re­placed and moved to the left in 2016 with the ar­rival of Kee­gan Rosen­berry. When Rosen­berry slumped last year, Gad­dis stepped into the void, mak­ing 23 starts.

This sea­son, he’s pri­mar­ily served as the re­serve full back, dep­u­tiz­ing on the left to spell Fabinho dur­ing his knee-in­jury ab­sence and dips in form from the young Matt Real. What­ever the change, Gad­dis has han­dled it like a pro­fes­sional. He’s se­cure in what he’s ac­com­plished in his eight sea­sons with the Union (the team’s long­est tenured player) and draws strength from his many off-field in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing in­volve­ment in the com­mu­nity and with his Chris­tian faith.

“I just think coach Curtin ex­pects cer­tain things out of me,” Gad­dis said. “Of course we needed a win that week, but ev­ery game is dif­fer­ent and you have to play ev­ery game dif­fer­ent be­cause the op­po­nent is dif­fer­ent week to week. … I have a re­ally good team around me and my team­mates are ex­cep­tional and they keep me pre­pared from game to game. So when it’s time to get pre­pared for a game, it’s easy.”

This week’s game doesn’t shape up as one that might fa­vor Gad­dis. At home against Real Salt Lake Satur­day night (7, PHL17), Curtin is apt to turn to Fabinho, who can give him more at­tack­ing punch on the left side. If Gad­dis’ num­ber is called, though, he’ll do what he’s done more than a hun­dred times in the past, a process that’s

“It just was a game where you play the game and you as­sess what teams are giv­ing our team,” Gad­dis said. “Soc­cer’s very much like chess. I’m just thank­ful for team­mates that put me in good position to do things that are go­ing to help me in that week.”

DFM FILE

Ray Gad­dis may be score­less in his MLS career, but the has found other ways to be pro­duc­tive for the Union. vet­eran full­back

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