MLS: Keegan Rosenberry is the ROTY Favorite

Keegan Rosenberry has been absolutely fantastic for the Philadelphia Union at right back and, in turn, has become the favorite to win Rookie of the Year in MLS.

When Keegan Rosenberry went third overall in the 2016 MLS Superdraft, it surprised many people. After the Philadelphia Union had their homegrown player rights denied by the MLS on Rosenberry, who played in their academy when he was younger, most analysts had him going later in the draft. This did not deter the Union, though.

After they had made the pick, people thought that he might be able to challenge for the starting right back spot, but that he would probably end up as a bench option. Some thought he might even see time for the Union’s USL affiliate, Bethlehem Steel FC.

Boy were they wrong.

Keegan Rosenberry defends against Colombus Crew

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Not only has Keegan Rosenberry started all 14 of the Union’s games this season, he has been on the pitch for every single second. Currently, he is the only rookie that can say that, as every other one in the league has seen at least some time on the bench. Though he has played the entire season thus far, Rosenberry has only committed four fouls, and he has managed to avoid picking up a single card as of the Copa America break.

He averages 2.5 tackles per game, 2.9 interceptions a game, has completed 75% of his passes this season, and owns a 7.05 player rating (Stats from here).

Those facts alone make Rosenberry’s first third of his rookie MLS season standout, but it’s the intangibles that aren’t in the stat line that give him the edge in the Rookie of the Year race over somebody like Jordan Morris.

Last year the Philadelphia Union gave up 55 goals (third worst in MLS), but they have only allowed 16 goals this season, which is tied for fourth best in the league. Keegan Rosenberry has been an integral part of that turnaround. He has gone up against some of the best players MLS has to offer (Keane, Kaka, Gerrad, Lavin) and hasn’t shown a bit of hesitation. He has made huge tackles in key spots, and helped the back line protect goalkeeper Andre Blake.

He has proven himself to be very good at on the ball defense, making it hard for opposing offenses to create chances on the right side of the field. Also, he rarely is out of position and covers off the ball runs well, thus nullifying many outstanding players who attack on the left side of their team’s formation. The Union’s defense would not be as solid a back line without Rosenberry taking the field at right back.

Also, I think that Keegan Rosenberry’s contributions on defense have certainly been noteworthy in the Union’s jump from ninth in the Eastern Conference at the end of last season, to sitting at the top of the table right now. It’s hard to say, but I think if the MLS kept a stat on goals prevented by good defense, Rosenberry would be near the top.

There is still much more MLS to be played, but at this point, I think all Keegan Rosenberry has to do is keep up his talented start to be a lock for Rookie of the Year. Also, it would definitely help if the Union continue on the path I see them on. That’s my take, but who do you think should be the favorite for Rookie of the Year? Tell us below.