Sorry, Katy Perry, Zach Pfeffer’s no longer living a "Teenage Dream."
Now a five-year pro at the ripe old age of 20, the kid from Upper Dublin, who did most of schoolwork at Upper Dublin High online and is still taking online classes at Penn State, has finally solidified himself at as an MLS midfielder in the Union’s lineup.
While the results have been mixed, a pair of goals — including a game winner to go with a costly red card landing him a two-game suspension, as well as a handball inside the box that led to a penalty kick goal — Pfeffer’s clearly demonstrated he should be around for while.
"I still think this is the beginning for me," said the 5-foot-8, 150 pound Pfeffer, who at 15 became the fourth youngest player to sign an MLS contract in 2010.
Over the next few years he made only sporadic appearances for the team while attending the Union’s training Academy
But this season he’s started eight of the 18 games he’s played.
"I’m getting comfortable now," said Pfeffer, who’s fraternal twin brother, Jared, attends the University of Indiana, "but I’ll even more comfortable as I play more games and am able to express myself even more. I’m a skillful, technical, creative, attacking player. I still want to show more of that flair, that creativity as I continue to play."
Union manager Jim Curtin has already seen enough to believe Pfeffer has a bright future.
"He can be a goal scoring midfielder," said Curtin, whose 6-11-4 club is coming off a 2-1 loss Saturday in Toronto, keeping them just off the fringe of a potential playoff spot. "They’re very hard to find. He has the potential and ability to be a guy getting eight goals a year and double digit assists. But he’s not a finished product yet."
Pfeffer knows it, just as he knows the Union will need to string together a bunch of solid performances if they’re to climb into one of those coveted playoff spots.
"A lot of games we show everyone we can play in 25 minute spurts," said Pfeffer, who shares an apartment in Manayunk with teammate Eric Bird. "Now the goal now is do that the entire 90 minutes. We have some good, talented players. Now have to get that killer instinct."
Excluding Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal match at the Red Bulls, the Union have just 12 games remaining, enough time to make up ground, but with little margin for error. For Pfeffer, though, the end of the MLS season may not be the end of his year.
He’s currently on the U.S. 23 and under team, trying to earn a spot on the club that will head to Rio next summer for the Olympics.
"The qualifying is in October," said Pfeffer, whose travel itinerary has already spanned much of the globe, including spending a year on loan to a team in Hoffenheim, Germany. "They’ll pick the team a couple of weeks before and have some camps leading up to it. I’m probably a little behind because I’m in the younger stage and have just to one camp so far. But the Union is my first priority. If things go well here the rest should take care of itself."
So much already has for Zach Pfeffer, who regularly calls or text his parents, and realizes just how fortunate he is.
"It’s been amazing," said Pfeffer, who has no immediate plans to shave the beard he grew to make him look a bit older. "Soccer has really given me so much. It’s opened my eyes to the rest of the world."
Now it may not be long before the rest of the world gets to open its eyes and see what Zach Pfeffer can do.