Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

“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.

[ WATCH: Bobby Wood scores again for Hamburg ]

“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.”

[ MORE: Houston adds Olympic hero Alberth Elis ]

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.

Follow @NicholasMendola

MLS roundup: ATL roll past Galaxy; RSL survive 10-man Rapids

Photo credit: Real Salt Lake / @RealSaltLake
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A roundup of, plus a few quick thoughts about, all of Saturday’s action from around MLS…

[ MORE: Other MLS Things — The Archive ]

LA Galaxy 0-2 Atlanta UnitedFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Two teams with fantastic attacking talent but very little in terms of a strong, controlling midfield presence — you’d expect a game like that to be wide open with plenty of chances at both ends of the field, and you’d have been right about Atlanta’s 2-0 victory over LA (at least for the opening 45 minutes. The stark difference between the two sides on Saturday? Atlanta’s ability to turn shooting chances into scoring chances, and LA’s inability to do so.

In truth, the chance resulting in the Five Stripes’ opening goal, which also turned out to be the winner, was the scrappiest once of the bunch.

Miguel Almiron was sensational on the night — constantly on the ball in dangerous areas, constantly gliding past one and two white shirts, constantly winning free kicks (and a penalty) in those dangerous areas. Since suffering a 4-0 defeat on opening day, Tata Martino’s side is unbeaten in their last six games (five wins) and moved to within a point of Eastern Conference- and Supporters’ Shield-leading New York City FC.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was rendered completely ineffective and he — dare I say it — was little more than a passenger for the vast majority of Saturday’s game. Jonathan dos Santos picked up an injury during warmups, forcing Baggio Husidic into the starting lineup, and that did LA no favors when it came time to slow Atlanta’s momentum through the center of the field (which was the entire game).

Columbus Crew SC 2-2 New England RevolutionFULL HIGHLIGHTS

If you had New England sitting above Columbus in the standings at any point this season, let alone after eight weeks, please proceed to the cash-out window immediately. Brad Friedel‘s bunch has played some pretty passable, if unexciting, soccer thus far and have picked up points in five of their seven games played. They’ve even won four points from their first three games away from home, which is two-thirds of the way to matching last season’s paltry haul of six.

Saturday’s 2-2 draw in Columbus saw the Revs come from behind twice to secure a well-earned and deserved point. Cristian Penilla has flown under the radar with regard to impact signings of the offseason — the Ecuadorian has two goals, including the stoppage-time equalizer on Saturday, and four assists in his first seven MLS games — and Diego Fagundez appears to have finally been handed the keys to the Revs’ attack with Lee Nguyen banished to the periphery (but still not traded away).

Real Salt Lake 3-0 Colorado RapidsFULL HIGHLIGHTS

Tim Howard was sent off after 20 minutes for handling the ball outside his penalty area — how great is that multi-million-dollar contract looking now? — yet Colorado so nearly held on for an away point against their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals. Alas, RSL scored three times in the final eight minutes of regular and stoppage time, helping the final score to match the lopsided nature of the preceding 60 minutes:

29 shots (10 on target), compared to just 12 (o on target) for Colorado; nearly 71 percent of possession; 571 passes, to just 228. The lopsidedness goes on and on.

Albert Rusnak scored a stunning free kick to complete the scoring, but was still upstaged by Damir Kreilach’s first MLS goal which came just three minutes earlier.

RSL have alternated wins and losses in each of their last six times out, which spells bad news for a suddenly important Friday night trip to Vancouver to face a Whitecaps side that 1) they beat at home earlier this month, and 2) has lost three straight, by a combined score of 10-1.

Elsewhere in MLS

Sporting KC 6-0 Vancouver Whitecaps — FULL RECAP
Montreal Impact 3-5 Los Angeles FC — FULL RECAP
Houston Dynamo 5-1 Toronto FC
Orlando City SC 3-2 San Jose Earthquakes
FC Dallas 2-0 Philadelphia Union

Bundesliga wrap: Relegation playoff race stays tight

Christian Charisius/dpa via AP
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With three matches remaining for all 18 Bundesliga clubs, there’s clarity at the very top and bottom but plenty to sort in the races to qualify for Europe and avoid the relegation playoff.

[ RECAP: Man City 5-0 Swans ]

We focus on the latter here, with all three teams on 30 points losing away from home this weekend, including one to the 17th place side in Germany.

Hamburg 1-0 Freiburg

Lewis Holtby scored a 54th minute goal to keep the hosts’ slim survival hopes alive, and USMNT forward Bobby Wood got into the match for the final 23 minutes as Hamburg scooped up a rare win.

Augsburg 2-0 Mainz

The visitors had more of the ball but couldn’t rebound from a 29th minute Michael Gregoritsch goal, allowing Alfred Finnbogason to seal the result in stoppage time.

Borussia Monchengladbach 3-0 Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg has a hefty edge on Mainz and Freiburg in terms of goal differential, but won’t be feeling too confident after watching Lars Stindl, Raffael, and Christoph Kramer all score before halftime.

Elsewhere
RB Leipzig 2-5 Hoffenheim
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Hertha Berlin
Stuttgart 2-0 Werder Bremen
Hannover 96 0-3 Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Koln 2-2 Schalke — USMNT’s McKennie goes 90

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 31 25 3 3 84 22 62 13-2-0 12-1-3 78
 FC Schalke 04 31 16 8 7 49 35 14 9-4-2 7-4-5 56
 Borussia Dortmund 31 15 9 7 61 41 20 9-4-3 6-5-4 54
 Bayer Leverkusen 31 14 9 8 55 41 14 7-5-3 7-4-5 51
 1899 Hoffenheim 31 13 10 8 60 44 16 9-4-2 4-6-6 49
 RB Leipzig 31 13 8 10 47 47 0 8-4-4 5-4-6 47
 Eintracht Frankfurt 31 13 7 11 41 40 1 7-4-5 6-3-6 46
 Mönchengladbach 31 12 7 12 42 48 -6 8-4-4 4-3-8 43
 Hertha BSC Berlin 31 10 12 9 38 35 3 5-6-4 5-6-5 42
 VfB Stuttgart 31 12 6 13 29 35 -6 9-4-3 3-2-10 42
 FC Augsburg 31 10 10 11 40 40 0 6-4-6 4-6-5 40
 Werder Bremen 31 9 10 12 34 38 -4 6-5-4 3-5-8 37
 Hannover 96 31 9 9 13 38 47 -9 7-3-6 2-6-7 36
 VfL Wolfsburg 31 5 15 11 30 40 -10 2-8-5 3-7-6 30
 FSV Mainz 05 31 7 9 15 32 49 -17 6-3-6 1-6-9 30
 SC Freiburg 31 6 12 13 26 51 -25 5-6-4 1-6-9 30
 Hamburger SV 31 6 7 18 24 48 -24 5-4-7 1-3-11 25
 1. FC Köln 31 5 7 19 31 60 -29 3-5-8 2-2-11 22

Pep celebrates another historic Man City performance

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Pep Guardiola was thrilled with his club’s response to sealing the Premier League title: More dominance.

[ RECAP: Man City 5-0 Swans ]

Man City battered Swansea City 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium on the strength of goals from five different players.

“From the first minute to the last one, we played what we have shown in the season,” Guardiola said on NBCSN after the match. “(We scored) a lot of goals and we didn’t concede. We play to keep improving our game here and for the next season.”

Guardiola could hardly differentiate between the club’s stylish Sunday goals, saying, “The first one, the second one, of course the third one. … The Yaya pass was amazing. All the goals were so good.”

And he was also pleased with the support from the Etihad Stadium crowd, though he admits he was grateful to escape before the City faithful stormed the pitch.

Guardiola said he thinks the supporters are still behind their team despite the decisive UEFA Champions League loss to Liverpool because of how hard City plays week-in and week-out.

“That’s happened because they know that we are not liars in the way we want to play,” he said. “They know that we tried our best from the beginning to the end. We knew from the beginning how happy they were.”

Conte relishing renewal of Mourinho rivalry

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LONDON —  Antonio Conte versus Jose Mourinho. Chelsea versus Manchester United.

The FA Cup final on May 19 will be some showdown between two Premier League giants as Chelsea breezed past Southampton 2-0 in their semifinal at Wembley on Sunday.

Conte against Mourinho is a battle which has become increasingly feisty over the past two seasons as they’ve had public spats and insulted one another.

Speaking after the game, Conte was asked about his relationship with Mourinho and potential fireworks on the sidelines, as well as on the pitch, during the final.

“With Jose [Mourinho], we have clarified the situation and that is the most important thing. There is not a problem between him and I,” Conte said. “I think this is a final between two great teams. In my mind I can tell you last season we arrived as favorites against Arsenal. I think in this season season we are not arriving as favorites but as you know very well, last season we lost the cup.”

Conte then revealed he respects Mourinho despite the words the two had earlier this season.

The Italian coach responded to Mourinho’s comments about him, and other PL managers, acting like “clowns” on the sidelines by saying Mourinho was a “fake, little man” as United’s manager also hit out and made a remark about Conte’s involvement in a previous match-fixing investigation.

“We are talking about two managers with a strong character and about two winners and when your mind, your heart, your blood and there is the will to win, for sure we want to try to win this trophy,” Conte said. “The same way Manchester United wants to achieve this. I have great respect for United’s story, for Mourinho’s story. I think they have the same respect for Chelsea’s story and my story.”

Let’s see if that respect is on show during what should be a fantastic final next month as it could well be Conte’s final game in charge of Chelsea.