NEW YORK – It was already clear that Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak thought highly of 15-year-old Zach Pfeffer back in September when he introduced the midfielder for the last eight minutes of an international exhibition victory over Chivas Guadalajara.
On Wednesday the Union signed Pfeffer, making him the club's first-ever Home Grown signing and the fourth-youngest in MLS history. Freddy Adu was the youngest-ever player to sign an MLS contract when he joined D.C. United at 14 years of age.
Pfeffer, a member of the US U-17 national team who hails from Dresher, Pa., has played for national youth club power FC Delco and represented the Union in the annual SUM Cup for U-17 players during All-Star week in Houston.
WATCH: Who is Zach Pfeffer?
"When I got the job, Zach was a kid I already knew about," Union assistant John Hackworth said. "When we started preparing our academy U-17 team this summer to go compete in the U-17 MLS Cup, you could just tell Zach was a little different. He was very committed, very serious. He's made some big decisions in is life to try to be the best soccer player he can be and focus solely on being a soccer player.
"Throughout the entire training period until the MLS Cup, he was very good. Afterwards, I discussed with Peter Nowak the possibility off bringing in a couple of guys from the youth team. Zach, in his situation, was the perfect candidate to train with the first team. So we brought him in to train with the first team and he did outstanding.
Hackworth said that despite the physical disadvantage between the 15-year-old Pfeffer and the older competition at the 2010 SUM Cup in Houston, the youngster’s tactical and technical abilities came shining through. The former U-17 national team coach compared Pfeffer to a right-footed version of current Union player Roger Torres.
Pfeffer said back in September that "it would be a dream come true" to sign for the Union.
“That’s what I’ve been hoping for the past year since the Union have been established," he said. "It would be fantastic.”
"I think Zach could be one of the greatest college players ever," Hackworth said. "But he has his sights set on being a professional."
Youngest players to sign MLS contracts
Freddy Adu: 14 years, 168 days
Abdus (Fuad) Ibrahim: 15 years, 130 days
Diego Fagundez: 15 years, 273 days
Pfeffer: 15 years, 352 days
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