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

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:

Watch Joel Embiid go crazy for Eagles' game-winning field goal


Watch Joel Embiid go crazy for Eagles' game-winning field goal

Be honest, when Jake Elliott lined up for a 61-yard field goal, after missing earlier in the game from 52 yards out, did you think he was going to make it?

Well, he did and we all went crazy (see story). Even Joel Embiid, who was at the game with many of his teammates, went nuts.

In addition to the people in the stands going nuts, the folks across the street at Xfinity Live went wild.

Here’s the play again, in case you just want to see it again.

Here are the best of the rest and social reaction from Elliott’s amazing kick.

Grading the Eagles' 27-24 win over the Giants

Grading the Eagles' 27-24 win over the Giants

Grading the Eagles' 27-24 win Sunday afternoon over the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field (see breakdown):

Carson Wentz: 21/31, 176 YDS, 1 TD

This was a less than phenomenal outing for the Eagles' franchise quarterback. Wentz did avoid turnovers against a tough defense, which was a positive, maybe the only positive. The second-year passer only averaged 5.7 yards per attempt, and really struggled with his accuracy downfield again. Certainly not Wentz's best, but he didn't make a crippling mistake, while also doing just enough to move the offense on two fourth-quarter scoring drives.

Grade: C+

Running backs
Wendell Smallwood: 12 ATT, 71 YDS, 0 TD
LeGarrette Blount: 12 ATT, 67 YDS, 1 TD
Corey Clement: 6 ATT, 22 YDS, 1 TD

See what happens when the Eagles commit to the run? Blount, Clement and Smallwood were all effective, even sensational in spurts. Darren Sproles added three carries for 11 yards before exiting with a wrist injury. All told, the running backs combined to rush 39 times for 193 yards — a 4.9 average per carry. Long overdue (see Roob's observations).

Grade: A-

Wide receivers
Alshon Jeffery: 8 TGT, 4 REC, 56 YDS

Credit a very good New York secondary for keeping the ball out of the Eagles' receivers hands. Wentz missed some opportunities to get the ball to his weapons, but the coverage was also excellent for much of the game. Regardless, given the amount of money the club spent here in the offseason, the leading receiver should probably wind up with more than 56 yards.

Grade: C-

Tight ends
Zach Ertz: 10 TGT, 8 REC, 55 YDS, 1 TD, 1 FUM

Ertz was doing another steady job as Wentz's safety blanket, right up until the moment he fumbled in the fourth quarter. The Giants started in Eagles territory and quickly scored, knotting the score at 14 and swinging the momentum in their direction. Simply put, that can't happen.

Grade: D

Offensive line
Chance Warmack, Stefen Wisniewski: Alternated at LG

Much better job this week. For the first time in 2017, the running game was firing on all cylinders, while the quarterback was provided with clean pockets most of the afternoon. The Giants had three sacks, but Wentz was guilty of holding the ball too long on most, if not all of those. Considering the reputation of the Giants' front four, this was about as strong of a performance as one could hope.

Grade: A-

Defensive line
Eagles: 0 SK

Eli Manning was getting rid of the ball quickly, negating the typically fierce Eagles pass rush. Not only was the defensive line unable to get Manning to the ground, they only logged three hits on the quarterback all day. The unit was strong at the point of attack in the running game, doing their part to limit the Giants to 49 yards rushing on 2.9 yards per carry.

Grade: B

Mychal Kendricks: 5 TKL, 2 PD

Jordan Hicks exited with an ankle injury in the second quarter, giving Kendricks a long-awaited opportunity to play some serious snaps. The sixth-year veteran did not disappoint, deflecting a pass into the air for an interception. Nigel Bradham made eight tackles as well.

Grade: A-

Defensive backs
Patrick Robinson: 4 TKL, 1 TFL, 3 PD, 1 INT
Rasul Douglas: 4 TKL, 1 INT

As you can see, Robinson had a strong game in the box score. What the numbers won't show is Robinson being torched by Sterling Shepherd for a 73-yard catch-and-run. Of course, Chris Maragos didn't do his cornerback any favors. Filling in at free safety for an injured Rodney McLeod, Maragos took a bad angle to the receiver, turning a gain of 15 yards or so into a long touchdown. Playing off-coverage most of the afternoon, Jalen Mills finished with all of the tackles (12), but he was bested in the end zone twice by Odell Beckham Jr.

Grade: C

Special teams
Jake Elliott: 1/2 FG, 2/2 XP

Elliott missed a 52-yard field goal earlier, and there were a bunch of bonehead plays by special teams throughout the contest. However, when a rookie kicker nails a 61-yard field goal as time expires to win the game, you tend to forget about that other stuff.

Grade: A-

Eagles record: 2-1

Doug Pederson made some questionable decisions, like going for it on 4th-and-8 at roughly midfield. And Jim Schwartz's decision to play his cornerbacks off the Giants' receivers all day was beginning to look questionable as well. But Pederson stuck with the run for a change, which ultimately paved the way to victory, and Schwartz's unit did just enough to hold the Giants to 24 points. A win's a win, so can't complain much.

Grade: B+