Sports are making their return in the United States — and a pair of West Virginia men’s soccer alumni kicked off the MLS with a Philadelphia Union victory.
Jack Elliott and Ray Gaddis were in the starting lineup for the Union’s 1-0 victory over NYCFC to open the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Florida, a one-off competition to celebrate the late start to the 2020 season. The game kicked off at 9 a.m. ET, the earliest start time in the history of MLS soccer.
To make the game even more unique, members of the Union donned the names of victims of police brutality on the back of their shirts. Gaddis, who is on the board of MLS Black Players for Change, chose to honor Breonna Taylor, an EMT who was killed in her Louisville home in March. Elliott wore the name of Eric Garner, who was killed in 2014 in New York City.
After both squads finished the first half scoreless, a second-half goal from Philadelphia’s Alejandro Bedoya gave the Union the edge that they would need for the victory.
That victory came, however, despite NYCFC’s 59-percent domination of possession. The back line, including both former Mountaineers, needed to make significant plays in the defensive third, but ultimately it was goalkeeper Andre Blake’s seven saves that would seal the win for Philadelphia.
Both Gaddis and Elliott have become regulars in the Philadelphia Union starting lineup since their respective draft selections in 2012 and 2017. Elliott cemented Philadelphia as his home through 2021, with an option to stay for the 2022 season as well. Gaddis, the club’s all-time leader in minutes played, signed a new contract in 2019, although the details of it were undisclosed.
Gaddis, a native of Indianapolis, appeared in 73 games over four seasons at West Virginia from 2008-2011, including 72 starts. The London native Elliott also played four seasons with the Mountaineers, starting 53 of his 68 games and adding 6 goals.