Ray Gaddis comes out of retirement to join FC Cincinnati back line

Veteran defender Ray Gaddis has come out of retirement to sign a two-year contract with FC Cincinnati. Graphic by Zach Wooldridge.

Veteran defender Ray Gaddis is coming out of retirement to join FC Cincinnati’s back line.

FCC announced Wednesday that Gaddis has signed a two-year contract through 2023 with an option for the 2024 season.

The 31-year-old former Philadelphia player reunites with new FCC coach Pat Noonan and general manager Chris Albright, who joined the technical staff late last year following stints with the Union as an assistant and technical director, respectively.

Gaddis, who can play left or right fullback, had announced his retirement last March, following his ninth MLS campaign in 2020, which ended with a start in the MLS Cup playoff loss to New England. He started all 15 of his appearances that year and has registered more than 19,000 MLS minutes in 225 appearances, all with the Philadelphia Union.

“When Ray stepped away from the game a year ago, he was arguably playing at the highest level of his career,” FC Cincinnati General Manager Chris Albright said 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 the 35th overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft out of West Virginia University, and he recorded 10 assists in his nine seasons with Philadelphia, where he is the club’s all-time appearance and minutes leader.

The Indianapolis native was a founding member of MLS’ Black Players for Change in 2020 and is a key member of the Black Players Coalition. Last year, he helped unveil a mini-pitch at Oscar Charleston Park in his hometown. Aimed at removing barriers and providing a safe place to play, the mini-pitch features colorful murals celebrating the contributions of African American trailblazers.

In December, the United Soccer Coaches announced that Gaddis was selected as the winner of the Jerry Yeagley Award for Exceptional Personal Achievement. He will be honored on January 21. The award is named after the legendary Indiana University men’s soccer coach and is presented annually to a former collegiate soccer student-athlete.

Gaddis joins a backline that features right backs Alvas Powell and Zico Bailey and left backs Ronald Matarrita and Tyler Blackett, who also plays center back. Johnny Nelson, selected in the Re-Entry Draft, has not yet signed, per a source close to the situation.

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