In what looks to be yet another failed season for the Philadelphia Union, its time to look at one of their big (and only) successes: Zach Pfeffer – a young midfielder with a high cap of talent that is just waiting to be filled.
Pfeffer, 20, is by far the Union’s finest display of homegrown talent. Born and raised in Dresher, PA, Pfeffer grew up playing soccer for local youth clubs. Before the Union even came in to being, Pfeffer played for Montgomery United, YMS Celtic, and FC DELCO all while attending Upper Dublin High School. His natural ability to play the game and get results is what landed him the opportunity to spend a semester with the U-17 national team and ultimately, the Philadelphia Union U-17 team.
Pfeffer was officially signed on December 22, 2010 where he began to play with the first team squad – thus, making him the club’s first Home Grown player and the fourth-youngest player to sign an MLS contract all at just the young age of 15.
Pfeffer’s journey hit an emotional high note when he came on as a substitute during a friendly against Chivas Guadalajara. That was his first appearance in the blue and gold and just the tip of the iceberg as to what he would contribute. That game marked a special moment in the youngster’s career, and he has the framed jersey – signed by the entire 2010 Union squad- to commemorate the moment.
In his rookie season, Pfeffer played three matches while starting two of them towards the end of the season. He was also called back up to the U-17 national team to play a tournament in France. He spent some more time on on the Union’s own U-17 club where he led the squad to an undefeated record at the Generation Adidas Cup. However, it was after his sophomore campaign spent in Germany with Hoffenheim 1899 that the Union organization saw this future star’s potential.
2014 proved to be a good year for Pfeffer as he appeared for the Union in five matches – setting an all-time high. Besides first team playing time, Pfeffer also found the back of the net for the first time in his Union uniform when he equalized against Columbus in October making him the fourth-youngest Union player to have scored a goal at the prime age of 19. 2014 also brought about his first chance to participate at the MLS Homegrown game along with an opportunity to play for the U-20 national team where he scored the U.S’s single goal in a 1-1 draw with Argentina.
Pfeffer proved that the road to get to this point is a hard one, but a possible one. And there’s no other way to express that then to look at his performance throughout this season. Pfeffer has started in five games while appearing in nine and has netted two very important goals for the Union thus far.
The future of this team lies in the hands of the star midfielder. Young and hungry and full of passion, that’s how he plays the game and that’s why he’s a success story. Pfeffer has contributed 1,148 minutes of play for the Union while taking 32 shots and converting on three of them in four years. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will be seeing more of Pfeffer in the future – perhaps as he gains a permanent starting position within the next few years. With one of the highest ceilings for player performance and a natural talent and skill level, he’ll be just fine.