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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rosenberry, rookies seting records for Union

The Union's Josh Yaro, defending against Crystal Palace in a recent friendly,
is part of a rookie class that has contributed more than any other
in franchise history. (AP)
Thursday night, Keegan Rosenberry will represent the Philadelphia Union, along with Andre Blake, in the MLS All-Star Game. It’s a tremendous honor for a rookie to be playing with the league’s best and most expensive talent against a club with the quality and history of Arsenal.

But Rosenberry in particular symbolizes another aspect of the Union’s resurgence this season: His All-Star nod epitomizes a stellar rookie season being compiled by the Union’s SuperDraft picks.

Just 21 games into the season, Rosenberry has already set the Union record for minutes in a season by a drafted rookie. Likewise, the Union’s rookie contingent has bested the club mark for most combined minutes in a season by a draft class. In the process, they’re showing that the methodology of Earnie Stewart that prizes building through youth is on solid footing.

Here are the rookie numbers, which paint a rarely rosy picture for the Union:

Rosenberry has played every minute for the Union this season in MLS play, 1890 in all. He’s tied for second in MLS in minutes played, trailing only New York City FC’s David Villa (1906). Rosenberry is also one of three field players not to have missed a single minute for their teams this season, joining D.C. United outside backs Sean Franklin and Taylor Kemp (1800 minutes each).

Rosenberry’s total supplants the previous rookie mark for a Union draft pick, held by – appropriately enough – the man he replaced as the starting right back, Ray Gaddis. The second-round pick in 2012 logged 1,475 minutes that season, narrowly edging out Danny Mwanga in 2010 (1,461) and Michael Farfan in 2011 (1,460).

Rosenberry has vaulted past that with room to spare. And he’s still got nearly 40 percent of the season to go.

“I would date it back to day I was drafted, just how thrilled I was and blessed to have the opportunity to play for the team I wanted to, close to home and in a familiar organization,” Rosenberry said this week. “Every time I’m put on the field, it continues to build confidence that the coaching staff and the team believes in you, and it breeds more confidence. That I’m continuing to play and earn starts, it means I’m doing my job right or the way it needs to be completed.”

But it’s not just Rosenberry. The four Union SuperDraft rookies on the roster – Rosenberry, Josh Yaro, Fabian Herbers and Taylor Washington – have combined for 3,277 minutes. That exceeds the total set by six draft picks who made the roster in 2010 and logged a collective 3,087 for the inaugural Union. The Union’s rookie minutes bottomed out last year at a grand total of 12, all by the readily-released Ray Lee.

MLS minutes played by Union rookies per season.
Yaro has played 896 minutes this season, nestling him ahead of Antione Hoppenot for fifth-most in Union history, a number that would be higher if not for the defender’s shoulder injury. Herbers, who has played 491 minutes, has seen more action than either Amobi Okugo or Jack McInerney in 2010.

The 2016 class leads on averages across the board. The three rookies who’ve played have averaged 1,092 minutes, nudging ahead of the 2011 class, when Farfan and Zac MacMath averaged 1,067. If you factor in all players who were part of the roster when the season started (i.e. dragging down the 2016 mean by factoring in Washington, who hasn’t yet played), the 2016 class still leads at 819 minutes per player. Again, that edges 2011, which included two players (Levi Houapeu and Ryan Richter) who didn’t play an MLS minute.

When conversations about rookie minutes were broached last season, coach Jim Curtin was quick to toss out caveats, and they apply to a degree. The 2010 team, which featured three of the top seven picks, should’ve yielded more minutes that season. By that logic, the 2016 contingent, which includes picks No. 2, 3 and 6 in the draft, should log significant time. And that’s why the 2015 group, bereft of a first-round selection, fell so remarkably flat (though if you factor in minutes logged by CJ Sapong, whom the Union traded the first-round pick for, it’s still not 2,000, but not important.)

The logic doesn’t always work, though. As evidence, see the 90 minutes Blake got after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft. Or that Rosenberry supplanted Gaddis, the 35th overall pick in his draft class, as the rookie minutes leader. Or that supplemental pick Leo Fernandes accounted for the most minutes in 2013 (albeit just 281) in a season where the Union had two second-round choices. And when bad management is in play, like Peter Nowak’s puzzling unwillingness to use rookies in 2010, the conclusions can be muddied.

What is certain is one conclusion as it pertains to this year’s group though: The Union’s rookies have gotten off to a tremendous start to their careers.

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July 30, 2016 at 10:58 AM 

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