Back in January, the Union’s selection of defender Keegan Rosenberry with the third pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft was met with mixed reactions. Some mock drafts had him as low as the ninth pick in the draft so a lot of skeptics rightfully looked at the pick as a bit of a reach. 

The Union, who finished a measly 10-17-7 last season, couldn’t afford to get the pick wrong, but they also didn’t want to risk another team drafting a player that they thought very highly of. Instead of sweating it out until the sixth pick, the Union drafted Rosenberry third and in turn gave him a huge lift of confidence before his professional career in Philadelphia even began.

Through 27 weeks of the MLS season, Rosenberry has shown the ability to do it all on the soccer field. While defending is his strong suit, his scoring and passing ability has drawn the attention of soccer analysts across the country. He’s currently atop MLSsoccer.com’s rookie rankings with just a little over a month remaining in the regular season. 

“Keegan is a very, very good right back,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “His soccer IQ is the first thing that I go to. Incredibly smart player, studies the game, studies the other teams, knows the league well. He’s running with his time on the field right now. He’s contributing in a big way, sometimes through assists and setting up goals. I’m happy with where he’s at.”

His college coach at Georgetown, Brian Wiese, has called Rosenberry “an old man in a young man’s body” due to his maturity at his age. He was selected to the MLS All-Star Game back in July and got his first chance to rub shoulders with some of soccer’s biggest names. Some feel as though he’s destined for a call-up to the USMNT. 

“The only way to continue to hear those kinds of accolades and praise and compliments is if you to continue to do what you’re doing,” Rosenberry said. “I do my best not to put too much thought into it. You get some jokes from the guys on the team and my friends and stuff, but I do my best to shrug it off and say, ‘thank you,’ and be humble about it.”

Rosenberry has started in all 29 games for the Union this season. He’s put the Union on a winning track, where they currently sit in fourth-place in the Eastern Conference at 11-10-8. With just five matches remaining in the regular season, it seems like the MLS Rookie of the Year trophy at this point is Rosenberry’s to lose. 

“I knew he was a good player,” Curtin said. “Did I think his success would be this quick? No — probably not as quick as it’s come. I knew he was capable of playing in MLS games right away and holding his own. But he’s doing more than just holding his own. He’s impacting the game, which is the next step in any player’s development.”

The Union will next face the Portland Timbers (10-11-8) on the road on Saturday. The game will air at 6 p.m. on the Comcast Network.