2019 is looming as big year for Keegan Rosenberry, whose return to form last season won him an invitation to Gregg Berhalter's first camp as US men's national team coach as he prepares to find his place with a new club following last month's unexpected trade to the Colorado Rapids.
The 25-year-old right back, who burst into American soccer's consciousness with an exquisite rookie season three years ago with the Philadelphia Union, had to rebuild his reputation following a horrendous sophomore campaign that followed his initial US camp under Bruce Arena two Januaries ago.
“I'm very honored to get called in again,” Rosenberry told MLSsoccer.com this week. “For me, after the way my second year [in MLS] went after that first camp, it was almost like starting from square one, in terms of building a resume to get called back in. We had a successful year last year with Philadelphia, and I'm very proud [to be here].
“I think this one's a little special, being Gregg's first camp, and obviously a starting point for him and this group as well.”
The Pennsylvanian hopes it's his first step on an international career, and Berhalter likes his versatility. Rosenberry is listed as a midfielder on the US roster.
“I see him as an outside back primarily, but I knew he can work in the midfield position, and he has been doing so in this camp at times,” Berhalter said. “The versatility to play a number of positions, we like. We like to be able to change formations during a game, and when you have a player who can play two positions, it helps.”
Rosenberry is an able attacker out of the back, as he demonstrated while starting every game for the Union in 2016 and finished second to Seattle's Jordan Morris for Major League Soccer's Rookie of the Year award. He wasn't so able in 2017, quickly lost his job to the more defensive-minded Raymon Gaddis, and made just 14 league appearances, seeing no action from mid-May to mid-August.
He bounced back with a stronger campaign last year as Philly posted its first winning record in seven seasons and reached the MLS Cup playoffs. And he showed up at Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center with a better idea of what to expect and a driving desire to make more of this call-up — with the US team and his club — than he did with the initial opportunity.
“Your goal should be to play for your country, represent your country, and it's difficult,” said Rosenberry, a Georgetown product. “I think [I need to] maintain a level of consistency, and something I've realized at this camp — and the other January camp, as well — is just trying to pursue excellence everyday. I think it's easy when you go back to your home club, where you're a little more comfortable, not to necessarily take days off, but kind of get into a groove and not demand as much from yourself and your teammates, because it is such a long season and you have so many games at a time.
“Here it's a little different, because we're together for a month, and it's a lot of training before a couple games at the end. So it's a lot of preparation, it's a lot of driving each other and pushing each other on a daily basis, and because of that, I think, hopefully, this will help me throughout the year and also kind of re-energize me for a national team invitation time and time again.”
Rosenberry is also a bit taken with Berhalter's approach to his new post.
“His vision for what he wants to do is so clearly outlined in his head," he said. “He makes it so much more clear for us, and it's much easier for us to buy into that and have a visual and have a clear-cut path on how to get there and what we want to do. ... We talk so much about his core principles and stuff. It's been a great learning experience for me.”
Rosenberry hopes to take what he gains to the Rapids, which sent $300,000 in General and Targeted Allocation Money, and potentially another $100,000, depending on performance, to the Union as they rebuild following an 8-19-7 campaign that was third-worst in MLS.
With the likes of Kei Kamara, Nicolas Mezquida, Benny Feilhaber and Diego Rubio also joining the Rapids this offseason Rosenberry is excited by the prospects in Colorado under second-year coach Anthony Hudson and GM Padraig Smith.
“I spoke to Anthony and to Padraig, and they just had so many good things to say about me, and I was very encouraged by that and how excited they were to work with me and to get the team together again,” Rosenberry said. “I'm excited to see this camp out and try to do as well as I can here, and then ride into preseason and get to know that team and bunch of new faces there. ...
“Just the way Anthony spoke about the team and his vision for the system and how we want to play. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.”