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Season Review: Zach Pfeffer

Photo: Earl Gardner

Editor’s note: At the end of the 2010 season, we posted a series of season reviews of every Philadelphia Union player. Over the next several weeks PSP continues with a review of the 2011 season.

Zach Pfeffer was signed as the Union’s first Homegrown player before the beginning of the 2011 season at the ripe old age of 15. While most of us assumed the youngster would be confined to reserve games while he got his feet wet with the club, Pfeffer actually factored into three regular season games as well as making appearances in the summer’s friendlies.

I think everyone at the PSP was shocked to see Pfeffer listed in the starting line up against the Columbus Crew in September. But there was the scrawny youngster included in the small ball midfield amongst Roger Torres, Freddy Adu, and Michael Farfan. He made two more appearances, coming off the bench in the draw at Kansas City and playing the first half in the season finale against the Red Bulls.

Inexperienced and undersized, Pfeffer looked and played like a 16-year-old rookie in his three appearances. But in between getting bumped off the ball and dribbling into traffic on too many occasions, there was a quick turn and a cool first touch or two.

An offseason of weight training with hopefully a little natural growth will do the kid well. He’s training back in Germany with Hoffenheim again until the end of this month and some time with different coaches, along with a competitive mid-table squad, should boost the experience level in front of his sophomore season.

High Point

Getting his first start against Columbus. No one was expecting to see the youngster in the regular season, yet there he was in the starting XI. The 63 minutes he played was the longest time on the field in his three appearances. He even registered a shot on a decent scoring attempt.

Low Point

The 45 minutes against the Red Bulls in the last match of the regular season. The youngster looked too small and too slow to be out on the pitch in a game that had meaning to both teams.

Strengths

In three brief appearances we’ve seen a raw, inexperienced youngster. But we’ve seen glimpses of what the kid can do. Pfeffer is confident on the ball and wants the ball at his feet. He has shown the ability to pick out good runs—some of the time.

Weaknesses

Size, speed, and experience. Especially against a hungry New York team, Pfeffer just looked physically over-matched. He was easily shoved off the ball and struggled to keep up with the pace of the game. But these look to just be temporary weaknesses. The ability to move into the flow of the game will come with time. And at only 16-years-old, he’s not yet done growing.

Outlook

The jury is still out because Pfeffer is still so young. But the kid has tremendous upside and the full faith in the coaching staff and the ownership group. He also has the benefit of working with Freddy Adu and Peter Nowak, men that have a lot of experience as, and with, a teenage professional. Pfeffer comes across as confident both on and off the field, a trait that can be considered both a strength and a weakness in such a young player. If he can tune his confidence and still be a consumant learner, there is a bright future in the blue and gold ahead for the young midfielder.

*Stat chart legend:
POS: Position; GP: Games Played; GS: Games Started; MINS: Minutes; PA: Passes Attempted; PC: Passes Completed; P%: Passing Accuracy Percentage; SHTS: Shots Faced; SV: Saves; GA: Goals Allowed; GAA: Goals Allowed Average; PKG/A: Penalty Goals/Attempted; W; Wins; L: Losses; T: Ties; ShO: Shutouts; W%: Win Percentage; SV%: Save Percentage; FC: Fouls Committed; FS: Fouls Suffered; YC: Yellow Cards; RC: Red Cards

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