Union Made is a reoccurring series to cover the Union’s Homegrown Players (HGP’s), Academy players, and youth system. To begin the player profiles, it seems only right to focus on Zach Pfeffer – the first home grown Zolo.
At a glance
Date of Birth: January 6, 1995
Hometown: Dresher, Pennsylvania
Youth Clubs: Montgomery United, YMS Celtic, FC Delco, IMG Soccer Academy
Zach signed a homegrown deal in December 2010 shortly before his 16th birthday. Zach is the fourth youngest player to sign an MLS contract.
Though listed as a striker at times, Zach is an attacking midfielder first and foremost. He has played lined up on both wings and in the center of the pitch for the Union and the U.S.A. He has not played enough yet for fans to determine his best position. Seriously, check Youtube for highlights of him. There are very few videos, making it hard to judge.
Unfortunately, Zach has not been able to break into the Union’s 18. Since signing in December 2010, Zach has only made 6 MLS appearances. He saw his best run in 2011 when Piotr Nowak played him in three games.
One of those games included a controversial start against the New York Red Bulls. A win would have knocked the Bulls out of playoff contention while guaranteeing us a first round bye. In a game in which the Union collapsed and lost, Zach was visibly out of his depth.
In 2013, Zach spent the entirety of the calendar year with Hoffenheim’s U-19 side. He was unable to break into the team, appearing only 9 times while scoring 2 goals.
This year, Pfeffer had the unfortunate luck of returning to a side led by John Hackworth, a “youth guru” who hated playing youth. The only youngsters to break into Hackworth’s sides were Jack McInerney and Amobi Okugo – two players who were already well-known and well developed.
It took fans chanting “We Want Pfeffer” during a 5-3 thrashing from New England for Zach to finally see his first minutes of 2014. He started the next game, but he was subbed at the half. He has not seen any minutes since then.
In part, Zach has often been away with the U-20 side. Interim manager Jim Curtin recently loaned him to Harrisburg, suggesting Zach still needs to fight to break into the Zolo’s 18.
Why should we be excited?
Zach has been highly rated for a while among U.S. soccer analysts. Last year, American Soccer News listed Zach as one of the next top American players.
This year, Zach has had a lot of success with the U-20 national team, having notched 3 goals and 3 assists in seven appearances for the Yanks in 2014. While he may not be contributing for the Union, Zach is still making the most out of the minutes he is receiving.
No Zolo has as much potential as Zach. Though he has yet to break into the team, Zach is still only 19. Next year and the following year will be key for his development. Though he has all this potential, Zach finally needs to start putting it together for the Union.
He should hope that the next manager shows more a willingness to play youngsters than Hackworth or Curtin. The Union have a worrying trend of stunting the development of young players. If the rumors are true and Rene Meulensteen signs on, Zach should finally get the opportunities to make an impact for this club (Meulensteen is big into youth development)
Zach’s ceiling is immense. Should he put everything together, Zach’s future lies in Europe and with the senior U.S. Men’s National Team. For now, keep a close eye on him at Harrisburg.