Young soccer fan whose emotional Christmas video went viral got to meet Union star Keegan Rosenberry

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Dave Zeitlin

Young soccer fan whose emotional Christmas video went viral got to meet Union star Keegan Rosenberry

In a couple of days, Keegan Rosenberry will report to his first U.S. national team camp.

Ethan Chambers, a 9-year-old from Pottstown, got to congratulate the Philadelphia Union right back in person. And tour around the Union’s training facility with him. And play a game of pool against him.

“You don’t get to play pool with a famous soccer player all the time!” Ethan gushed to reporters at the Power Training Complex on Friday.

You certainly don’t. But then again, this 9-year-old has been enjoying a lot of new things these days.

It all began on Christmas when his parents, Shawn and Tanya, surprised him with Union season tickets and a Rosenberry autograph. Shawn then posted Ethan’s emotional response on Twitter (not an avid social media user, he enlisted help of some younger people), at which point his phone practically buzzed out of his pocket.

As some news outlets caught wind of the story, so did the Union, who reached out to the Chambers family about coming to Chester to meet Rosenberry, who absolutely loved Ethan’s reaction when he first saw it on Twitter.

“I think I was just as excited as Ethan was,” said Rosenberry, the 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year runner-up. “What makes our job so special is playing for people like that, playing for people that love the team so much. That’s what makes the home games special. And it’s anybody that has that passion but especially the kids. To see how emotional he was and how happy he was to be here today was incredible for me.”

Ethan was a little shy at first as Rosenberry greeted the family and told him, “I’ve never seen someone so excited to get tickets.” But he warmed up as he received his own jersey and toured the building, checking out the locker room (the carpet was soft enough to his liking), the pool (both the swimming and billiards variety) and the film room (“They even have a movie theater?!” Ethan exclaimed). By the time they got back to the weight room, Ethan was smiling and a seasoned pro at giving interviews to both the TV and print media, explaining why he loves soccer so much.

“I tried the other sports and they just didn’t work for me,” he said. “But with this, I understand it and I love it.”

Ethan went to his first Union game in June — a 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps — with his Pottsgrove Force club team. Loving the view of the Delaware River and how close the seats seemed to the field, he’s been hooked ever since.

“We’re all huge sports fans but I can honestly say I was never a soccer fan until he started playing because I didn’t understand it,” Shawn said. “We watch all the [Philly] teams and this is the only team where he’s like, ‘Can we watch the Union tonight?’”

Shawn added that the “accessibility” of Union players sticking around to sign autographs after the game is a big reason why the team is catching on with a younger generation — and why the sport should continue to grow. Friday’s tour, of course, was another example of that kind of accessibility.

“With the big teams [in Philly], you don’t necessarily think about soccer,” he said. “But it’s all we talk about in our house.”

They’ll have a lot more to talk about in their house now after getting an up-close look at where the team trains, with the Union’s brightest young star serving as their personal tour guide. Here are some photos from what turned out to be a nice little event in Chester:

Pete Rose says Bryce Harper's style of play would work well in Philadelphia

Pete Rose says Bryce Harper's style of play would work well in Philadelphia

Earlier this month Vegas put some pretty decent odds on Washington Nationals' star Bryce Harper landing with the Phillies in free agency when 2019 rolls around.

Our very own Mike Murphy made a pretty decent case for it: championship contention, boatloads of money, hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, etc. The Phillies and Haper do make some sense.

And then today on 97.5 The Fanatic's midday show with Rob Ellis, after discussing the loss of Phillies' legend Dallas Green, former Phillies great and MLB hit king Pete Rose weighed in on the prospect of Harper joining the Phillies.

Rose was asked if he thinks Harper would fit in well in Philly.

"Yes, because he plays hard," Rose said.

"Trout would be a good player in Philadelphia," he added. "It seems like all the great players in MLB today -- the superstars -- they all play hard. It's hard to be a great player today and not play hard. Because people aren't stupid. People are watching you on a nightly basis." 

"If you don't play hard, don't go to Philadelphia. That's gonna be the wrong place for you to play. And that's a credit to the fans in Philadelphia."

Rose also believes the Phillies have a man at the top who is willing to make a big splash in order to win.

"Mr. Middleton will spend whatever you need to win. I love John Middleton. He's a great owner. I would have loved to play for him because he's not stingy with his checkbook."

"You have to have somebody who knows what parts of the puzzle to give the money to. You don't have to rebuild, you have to add two or three ingredients to your situation so you can win."

Rose will have a chance to get on the Phillies Wall of Fame, so you will likely be hearing more from him this summer.

Alshon Jeffery turned to Adam Schefter before signing with Eagles ... or did he?

Alshon Jeffery turned to Adam Schefter before signing with Eagles ... or did he?

Updated: 7:50 p.m.

The casual sports fan probably thinks media guys like Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski and ESPN's Adam Schefter are wizards. They're not. They just work really, really hard at what they do and have come as close to mastering their trade as seems possible.

Much of how they do exactly what they do is a mystery, but thanks to a very interesting piece in Sports Illustrated's MMQB, we're given a glimpse behind the curtain of Schefter's wizardry.

MMQB's Tim Rohan was given amazing access to mirror Schefter during his biggest day of the year: the first day of NFL free agency.

It's a fascinating portrait of a guy who is working at all times. ESPN has prevented him from driving a car because it wants him to be able to access his phone freely -- and safely -- at all times.

Schefter is basically an information dealer. Acquiring information, providing information, and telling the public about information when the time is right. The last part is tricky, but as Schefter explains it, years of experience have taught him how to interpret certain sticky situations.

One of the anecdotes of particular interest to Philadelphia Eagles fans involved free-agent wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who reportedly reached out to Schefter shortly after 11 a.m. on that day.

In the middle of Schefter’s flurry of calls, Alshon Jeffery (49 Markman points) rings him, wanting to know how much money the other free-agent receivers are making. Players sometimes contact Schefter with questions like this because he likely has that information even if he hasn’t reported it, as is the case here. Indeed, as they talk Schefter receives a text saying that Torrey Smith will be signing with the Eagles.

Schefter goes through the contract numbers on Smith, Jackson and Pierre Garçon, slowly, so Jeffery can apparently write them down. “It’s all about the guarantee, Alshon,” Schefter says. “It’s all about the guarantee … Your average per year could be $100 million. It doesn’t matter. If they’re going to guarantee you the majority of the contract, that’s what you want.”

Schefter asks where Jeffery is going. Jeffery doesn’t have an answer yet. Schefter asks that Jeffery notify him when he does make a decision and leaves the conversation at that.

The article goes on to explain that Schefter often provides information to people in hopes of receiving information back, first -- the scoop. But later in the day, a different reporter breaks the Jeffery-to-the-Eagles deal.

Details of that interaction were news to just about everyone ... including Jeffery. The new Eagles wide receiver tweeted out a response to that claim.

Regardless, the story paints the picture of a hard-working reporter who has mastered the art of juggling people and cell phones.

>>24 Hours... with Adam Schefter [MMQB]