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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Back with Union, Rosenberry ready to grow from U.S. camp experience

Though disappointed not to get a cap, Union right back
and MLS All-Star Keegan Rosenberry is grateful
for the chance to be in camp with the U.S. National Team
in January. (AP).
PHILADELPHIA >> The setting under the bubble at the University of Pennsylvania’s Dunning-Cohen Champions Field Monday, barely dodging intermittent snow squalls, seemed about as far away from sunny California as one could be.

Regardless of the differing climes, the work rate didn’t change Keegan Rosenberry. Whether competing with members of the U.S. National Team or his Philadelphia Union teammates, the approach seemed constant from the second-year pro.

That degree of consistency is vital for Rosenberry, who’s undergone a whirlwind 13 months, the latest step being the national team call-up from manager Bruce Arena. Rosenberry’s camp ended without a cap, the right back among a handful of players from the 30-plus man squad returned to their clubs ahead of last Sunday’s friendly with Serbia. (Graham Zusi, the converted midfielder, played the full 90 at right back in what appears to be Arena’s experiment du jour, while healthy-again Greg Garza of Atlanta United and debutant Jorge Villafana split time on the left.)

Despite a pang of disappointment, Rosenberry is drawing positives from a significant milestone.

“It was a good experience,” Rosenberry said. “I was happy to be out there. Very honored to get the call and to be a part of it. Obviously disappointed not to be involved in the friendlies, but I think they’re in an interesting situation going into March with the friendlies. I just use it as motivation going forward.”

It was just a year ago that Rosenberry was the rookie in Union camp, the result of a Homegrown Player claim denied by MLS and the Georgetown alum rocketing up the SuperDraft board to bed plucked at No. 3. In the last year, he’s earned an MLS All-Star Game nod, set an unbreakable record as the only rookie to play every minute of a 34-game season and finished second in the Rookie of the Year balloting while winning the league’s Fair Play Award … all while helping the Union make their first playoff appearance since Rosenberry was a high schooler playing on the nascent academy squads.

It’s no wonder that Rosenberry appeared on Arena’s radar, particularly at a position in which Arena’s predecessor, Jurgen Klinsmann, exhibited precious little consistency of selection.

Rosenberry rated the spell in California highly. It was just his second national team camp at any level, previous participating in an Under-23 camp. Having a pair of teammates – Alejandro Bedoya and Chris Pontius, the latter of whom made his national-team debut Sunday – at his side heightened the experience, as did a variety of contacts Rosenberry has gleaned from his brief stint in MLS.

He returns home with some areas to improve on.

“I think it’ll help a lot,” Rosenberry said. “Obviously all those guys are in the league and we’ll see them throughout the year. It’s good training in MLS. Whether or not I’m involved in the friendlies, it’s still good training. And I come back here hopefully pretty sharp and it’s a head start on the fitness level as well.”

“Keegan was sharp,” manager Jim Curtin said. “You can see the confidence. I think that going into the national team, that bounce is in his step. He’s disappointed because he wanted to play in the game, but at the same time, a young player that grew a lot.

“You can’t not learn from those experiences playing against Jozy (Altidore), (Gyasi) Zardes, (Juan) Agudelo and Michael Bradley. Being around those guys each and every day is a great way to learn. And I think he’ll come here with more confidence, more knowledge of the game and an eagerness to get back in that environment.”

Rosenberry was coy on specific teaching points. He established a reputation last season as a tremendous one-on-one defender, and his positional instincts show flashes of brilliance, especially when getting forward. He allowed that Arena’s criteria for the right back job are a little different than what he’s used to from Curtin, but those differing viewpoints are beneficial to growth.

“I think you take a little piece from each coach that you’re involved with,” Rosenberry said. “So obviously now that I’m here, it’s going to be completely on Jim and what this staff wants and how this team plays. But that changes as your environment changes, so I’ll do my best with that.”

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