FC Cincinnati announced on Wednesday that fullback Raymon Gaddis is coming out of retirement to sign a contract with the club through the 2023 season.
Gaddis, an Indianapolis, IN native, played 9 seasons for the Philadelphia Union compiling over 19,000 professional minutes and 227 appearances. A natural defender, Gaddis normally fills the right back position, but can feature as a left back if needed.
“When Ray stepped away from the game a year ago, he was arguably playing at the highest level of his career,” said FC Cincinnati general manager Chris Albright in the club’s press release. “He’s a lockdown defender and with the ability to play both outside back positions. His character and leadership are second-to-none, and he will be an excellent addition to the group.”
Gaddis was not known for his offensive ability with Philadelphia (10 assists in his career), but was one known as a top notch defender who was a great leader on a young Philadelphia roster.
“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching Ray since he was drafted in 2012,” said Union head coach Jim Curtin in a feature on Gaddis’ retirement. “Ray is an incredibly special player and has been an important part of our locker room. He exemplifies what a role model should be on and off the field. He has been with this team through every up and down, his belief in this team and organization never wavering. He gave everything he had every time he stepped on the field and his passion and dedication will be missed…”
Gaddis’ retirement did not appear to be performance related as he featured in 20 of 27 matches for the Union en route to the 2020 supporters shield including starting in their MLS Cup playoffs match.
The fullback spent 2021 as a voice for change as an executive board member of Black Players for Change. As part of BPC, Gaddis worked with the Black Women’s Players Collective to build a mini-pitch in Indianapolis. Gaddis has been a true leader on and off the pitch and one would hope that he can impact the West End and Cincinnati community as he has over his career.
It remains to be seen who will be the front-runner to lock down the starting right back position with Gaddis joining returning RB Zico Bailey and free agent Alvas Powell. This unit would likely not be considered a top position group in the league if considered as independent players, but all three of these players have positive traits that could help FCC going into 2022 and beyond.
In a follow up to my opinion piece today, Albright continues his trend of bringing in players from “winning cultures”. This signing is likely a low-risk, high-upside move to a club needing players with solid MLS experience.