Philadelphia Union defender Ray Gaddis talks season outlook, MLS expansion, and more
The 2015 Major League Soccer season is off and running. On Saturday afternoon, the Philadelphia Union opened the year with a 0-0 draw against the Colorado Rapids, from which he earned a spot on the Team of the Week. Maintaining more clean sheets is a goal that WVU alum Ray Gaddis, along with his Union teammates want to achieve more of in 2015.
In this exclusive interview with the Mountaineer legend, Gaddis spoke about what he focused on as areas of improvement during the off-season, the addition of two expansion franchises to the league, as well as some of his more recent community service efforts.
After the a long-term labor agreement between the owners and players was signed, two new teams began play this past weekend – New York City FC and Orlando City SC.
Gaddis was excited to have these two new cities join the mix as “it shows the growth of our sport, and the growing interest in soccer across the country.”
Ray was also ecstatic about the prospect of playing a game at Yankee Stadium later this season when the Union pay visit to NYCFC calling the experience a “dream come true.”
MLS not only grew in membership over the off-season, but did so also in the wallet. The league inked new television contracts with FOX and ESPN, ones that give the viewer more choice and consistency. Gaddis loved the idea of the new deals as it gives “WVU fans, and my family more of a chance to watch us more.”
The deal is for eight years and pays the league a combined $75 million a season, making it the highest valued media deal in MLS’s 20 year history.
During the off-season, Gaddis worked endlessly to keep in shape and improve his ball dribbling. He said “I needed to work on being a little more sharp on the ball.”
He went on to say that the Union is expecting to have a “big year” in 2015, adding that strong defensive play will be a big part of that effort.
Gaddis was again busy with giving back to the community this past off-season. During the holidays, Gaddis and his family provided hot meals to the less fortunate in his hometown of Indianapolis. In January, he took part in the fifth annual Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia Shining Stars Awards benefiting the March of Dimes.
Looking ahead, Ray Gaddis and the Philadelphia Union will shoot to beat several of MLS’s elite, including the defending Eastern Conference champion New England Revolution, and DC United – winners of last season’s Supporter’s Shield.
The Union will be on national television eight times throughout the 2015 campaign, providing the Mountaineer family plenty of opportunities to see Gaddis perform on the pitch.
Gaddis and the Union will be back in action this Saturday night, March 14th when they travel to take on Real Salt Lake.