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“An underlying current of quality”

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In retrospect, Keegan Rosenberry could’ve seen it as a sign of something good.

Participating in a match to help USMNT reserves stay fit during the Copa America Centenario, Rosenberry wasn’t slotted with his Philadelphia teammates; The right back was plugged in behind winger Christian Pulisic for the U.S. side.

“At first I kinda thought it was a coincidence,” Rosenberry said. “What a chance to hopefully show well. But the more people I talked to, it seemed they wanted to get a proper look at me. As the season progressed, I didn’t think too much of it.”

[ MORE: Fire add new DP striker from Legia Warsaw ]

Still, that was one of just two experiences with the U.S. set-up. Rosenberry had not represented the Americans at any level when he was called up for a U-23 camp for college players only, listed as a midfielder, in 2015.

In the short period since, Rosenberry has grown into a player pegged as a to get a USMNT look under Bruce Arena, something the coach confirmed in a Facebook Q&A last week.

“I’m obviously very, very excited to even be in the discussion,” he said. “I can’t wait.”

Neither can U.S. fans eager to see how Rosenberry compares to DeAndre Yedlin and other options on the right. That’s pretty remarkable considering the right back showed up at Georgetown in 2011 at a different position.

“He was always playing as a center mid,” said Georgetown head coach Brian Wiese. “But my assistant, Zach Samol, saw him first and said he loved this kid because he’s so technical. He’s very clean, tough, quick. He tackles. He makes good decisions with the ball, and has good spring for not being a 6-foot kid, and his habits are really good.”

Wiese says Rosenberry became a right back by virtue of positional need. The Hoyas wanted him on the pitch, but had MLS prospects up-and-down the center of the park. Their holes going into Rosenberry’s freshman year were striker, center back and right back, and they filled them pretty well: Brandon Allen at striker (now with RBNY),  Cole Seiler at center back (Vancouver), and Rosenberry on the right.

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“At first it was a shock to my confidence because I played all my life in the middle, and I fancied myself there,” Rosenberry said. “To hear that (he’d play right back), it wasn’t the first thing I wanted to see. But then I saw the talent of the players on the team, and I thought if I could get on the field I’d play any position.”

He started every match of his four years at Georgetown and captaining the club the last two seasons. The Hoyas went to the national championship game in Rosenberry’s freshman year, and went to the third round twice and quarterfinals once in his final three seasons.

“That experience in college was so important because I felt like I was still developing physically and mentally,” Rosenberry said. “Being a captain there for a couple of years and trying to manage the personalities and egos and demands of 25 guys really helps you mature whether you like it or not, and it makes you be a leader. It was something that I really valued.”

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12: Cedrick Mabwati #11 of the Columbus Crew SC and Keegan Rosenberry #12 of the Philadelphia Union battle for position as they race to control the ball in the second half on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Philadelphia defeated Columbus 2-1. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Rosenberry battles for position with Columbus’ Cedrick Mabwati (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Rosenberry and Georgetown teammate Joshua Yaro were both selected by Philadelphia in the Top Three of this year’s SuperDraft. To wind up with Philadelphia was a boon for the Harrisburg, Penn., native. Rosenberry wasn’t a member of the Union’s Academy but had trained with now head coach Jim Curtin, and he admired the boss. He was inspired to put on the shirt.

Rosenberry played every minute for Curtin’s unit this season, completing almost 300 more passes than anyone on the team. Only attack-minded players Tranquillo Barnetta and Seb Le Toux completed more key passes than the rookie.

“Going to team like Philadelphia who I was familiar with before the draft, knowing some of the staff and some of the players and where to go for training, it makes you feel like you belong and I think it helped me with the transition period,” Rosenberry said. “I’m really thankful for that.”

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He admits a sour taste from bowing out to Toronto FC in the first round of the playoffs, but Jim Curtin’s Union wasn’t expected to make the postseason this season. Rosenberry was a big part of the surprise, his work earning him a nod as a finalist for the MLS Rookie of the Year award ultimately claimed by Jordan Morris.

Before the Union begin their follow-up run in MLS, Rosenberry will — barring a dramatic turn of events — represent the United States men’s national team at January camp under Bruce Arena.

Wiese sees a comparison between Rosenberry and a current USMNT player that the Georgetown coach helped recruit as an assistant at Notre Dame in 2005: Matt Besler.

There’s a natural comparison of the two players. Besler is taller, and Rosenberry a bit quicker, but both are praised for their inherent leadership and speak about the game in an analytical way.

“There’s just a real quality in both of those guys,” Wiese said. “There’s an underlying current of quality in everything they do, in terms of how they manage themselves, train, take care of their bodies, how serious they are about their approach to their craft and you’re like, yeah, of course they’re going to make it. Those are two guys you never have to ask to do anything twice. You never need to bring them into the office to chastise them for doing something off the field.”

[ MORE: What counts as success for Bruce Arena? ]

While Rosenberry says there was a chance he’d have to fill in at center mid following deep injuries to Philadelphia’s corps, he expect he’s a right back for life right now. And he’s grateful chance put him in that position once he left his youth club, Penn Fusion, for college in Washington, D.C.

“I took it as a challenge to hone myself as a better 1v1 defender and all the traits that come with the position,” he said. “The similarities between center mid and right back might not be too far off in terms of distribution and connecting passes and whatnot. Where it’s different is getting exposed as a defender 1-on-1 and trying to deny service where in the middle you’re maybe trying to slow things down, stop counter attacks, or funnel things one way or another. Interestingly enough, I think it made me more marketable. There are 3-5 midfielders on the field at all times, but there’s only one right back. From my sophomore year on, I viewed myself as a right back.”

And U.S. fans may be viewing him there for a while. Bring on January.

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Lukaku rejects big comparisons: “I can’t say I’m in my prime”

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Romelu Lukaku has bagged a bunch of goals and played on three Premier League teams, but knows there’s another level to his game as he opens up life at Manchester United.

Rejecting comparisons to big strikers like Didier Drogba (because they’re different style players) and Robert Lewandowski (because he’s not yet at that level), Lukaku gave his thoughts about his career’s next steps.

[ MORE: Q&A with Edin Dzeko ]

Lukaku didn’t score in the PL for Chelsea, but has a 17-goal campaign on loan to West Bromwich Albion as well as 15-, 10-, 18-, and 25-goal seasons for Everton.

From Sky Sports:

“I’m 24 years of age, I cannot say I am the complete package, I can’t say I’m in my prime.

“There is still a lot of work to be done and I am delighted there is still a lot of work to be done. That means I can become even better than I am now.”

Lukaku most needs consistency in his game. Even in his massive campaign last season, he twice went four matches without a goal. While it’s possible to have fine performances but not find finish, Everton went 1W-3D-4L in those combined stretches and five of those matches were against bottom half sides.

Something tells us having Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Marcus Rashford setting him up could help, too.

Q&A: Edin Dzeko on Roma, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Champions League

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PST spoke to a quartet of AS Roma players this week as the club contends the 2017 International Champions Cup in the United States with the aim of a profile piece on i Lupi captain Daniele De Rossi’s quest for an elusive scudetto.

That piece came out well, but the conversations with some of his teammates were just as fun. While Kevin Strootman’s resilience and Hector Moreno’s Mexican ambassador status neatly fit into individual posts, our talk with ex-Man City striker and reigning Capocannoniere winner Edin Dzeko works better in Q&A form.

[ MORE: How will Chicharito slot in at West Ham? ]

Plenty has changed since Dzeko scored in Man City’s wild title-clinching finish against QPR. Dzeko talked about his surprising and explosive 29-goal Serie A season, his interest in a UEFA Champions League return to the Etihad Stadium, and a love for representing his home nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Enjoy.

PST: Obviously we know your quality from having scored 25-plus goals three times in seasons at Wolfsburg and Manchester City, but what was it like going from 10 goals to 39 in your second season at Roma?

Edin Dzeko: “It was definitely one of the best in my career. When you get up in your years you are supposed to go down, but actually I’ve gone up. I felt good and from the beginning of preseason I trained hard and it was an important season after getting to know the qualities of the teams and players in the league after my first season in Italy. Last year was big proof of it and like it always is, it was harder than it looked.”

PST: You’ve won the Bundesliga and the Premier League, the latter twice. Last season you shaved Juventus’ table advantage to four points. Can this be the year?

Dzeko: “I have hope that I can do the same in Italy. It’s definitely not easy with Juventus having it the last few years and not selling, only buying new players. Last season was really good for us. We were very close but we still dropped some easy points against the small teams and that cost us at the end. Next year we play Champions League. We changed coaches and a few players left and others came so we have to gather up to the new style of the coach and the new players have to learn what it is to play in Italy. Hopefully this season can be better than last, but we have to go step-by-step.”

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

PST: Wolfsburg had never won, and Man City hadn’t in 40-plus years. Can those experiences help in pushing Roma to its first scudetto since 2001?

Dzeko: “Hopefully. Also when I went to City and we won the first and second title, the team was probably was one of the best in England where it’s also not so easy to win the title. I have another three years contract in Rome and this town and these fans deserve a title. It’s such a shame, every year without a title for this club.”

PST: What would it mean?

Dzeko: “It would mean everything. Hopefully we will manage to do this in the next few years, but it would mean everything to them. I’d habe a lot of good feelings if Roma would manage to win the title. It would be amazing for all the players. They will love us and never forget. The people in Rome, they live for football. They live for us.”

PST: Hector Moreno mentioned that hunger in training was evident in just the few days he’s been there.

Dzeko: “You have to be hungry for good things because it’s a new young team, a new coach, and the team is step-by-step building itself in new directions. We lost four, five players from last seasons so it’s never easy to bring seven, eight new players and immediately work it out. So this preseason is important.”

(Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

PST: You’re Bosnia and Herzegovina’s all-time leading scorer, and you seem to relish international breaks and pulling on the shirt. 

Dzeko: “I’m proud of myself for what I’ve achieved because I remember when I was young and I was looking to the players, my idols, who were playing with Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s something special, we can take it to heart and I’m proud that I can be the idol of some young boys in Bosnia that can still believe they can do some good things and positive stuff in the future. When someone from our small country goes out and plays in a league like Italy, it gives the confidence for the rest of the young people that they can know that everything is possible.”

PST: You’re also pretty active in causes around Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dzeko: “It’s important for me because it’s my country, it’s the country that gave me everything, where I grew up for 18 years before I left for Czech Republic first and then Germany, England, Italy. I want to help the people who need help because I have the possibility to do it. I will always be there for them and I’m also the UNICEF ambassador that makes me even more proud because I love kids.”

PST: Finally, Roma is in a different pot than Manchester City for this year’s UEFA Champions League. Would you like to be drawn with your old team, or prefer the clubs stay separate?

Dzeko: “I would love it, to be fair. I would love to go back there and even against City I bring so many good memories from the beautiful days and my connection with the fans and club. I would definitely look forward to it.”

Reports: Swans rebuff Everton bid for Sigurdsson; want $65M

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What’s $7-13 million amongst peers?

Swansea City has reportedly shot down either a $52 and/or a $58 million Everton bid for Gylfi Sigurdsson, offers that falls shy of Swans’ $65 million asking price.

$65 million? Why that’s almost Benjamin Mendy money.

Either way, with Sigurdsson absent from Swansea’s U.S. tour, a move seems predetermined.

[ SERIE A: Can De Rossi help Roma catch Juve? ]

The BBC says Monday’s offer was the $52m price, and that it was Everton’s first offer, though The Guardian says it’s a second $58m bid from Everton for the Icelandic playmaker who almost single-handedly ensured the Welsh side’s Premier League status last season.

Reports of an initial $52 million bid also came earlier this month.

Sigurdsson, 27, scored nine goals last season and teamed with Fernando Llorente to form a potent duo. He first made his PL impression with seven goals during a half-season loan from Hoffenheim, and moved to Spurs for a tumultuous two seasons.

He’s since recorded seven-, 11-, and 9-goal seasons for Swans.

Everton has spent big this summer and look set to have the depth to compete in both the Premier League and UEFA Europa League.

VIDEO: Chicharito talks West Ham signing, opener at Manchester United

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Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is back in the Premier League, and will debut for his new club at the home of his old club.

The league schedulers didn’t know the Mexican striker would be a member of West Ham United on Opening Day, but nonetheless have the first weekend ending with an 11 a.m. ET kickoff between the Irons and Red Devils of Manchester United at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: How will Chicharito slot in at West Ham? ]

Combine a new home with an old haunt, and you’ve got one fired up Little Pea:

“A little bit more than my teammates probably, of course to be back to Old Trafford to start this adventure this season with my new team. It’s gonna be a very important one and I’m going to be very happy to be there.”

Hear more from the latest West Ham buy below: