Zach Pfeffer scored for the Union in their 1-0 defeat of UCF.

Union expect Pfeffer to compete for time

Through the Philadelphia Union’s first four exhibition matches, only three players have scored for the club.

Two of them – Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga – accounted for 60 percent of the team’s goals last season, so their preseason production should not come as a surprise.

The other – 16-year-old Zach Pfeffer – is more of a long shot to be a factor for Philly during the 2011 season. But don’t think for a second that the Union will keep their first Home Grown signing on the bench all season just because of his age and inexperience. Philadelphia's coaching staff expects the youngster to compete for playing time.

“I definitely think it’s a possibility,” Union assistant coach John Hackworth said. “We are trying to be very conservative in bringing Zach along, but at the same time we know how important it is to get an opportunity to play. He’s proven to us he’s capable."

[inline_node:325372]Hackworth sees Pfeffer as a natural central midfielder, and though the Union have plenty of those on the roster, the recent subtractions of Eduardo Coudet and Andrew Jacobson could make room for the 16-year-old to climb the depth chart.

Pfeffer certainly showed off some of his enormous potential in Florida, and though it came in an exhibition contest against a college team, Pfeffer’s goal against the University of Central Florida on Feb. 13 still was a memorable moment.

The score came on a 35-yard rocket and, according to Hackworth, the goalkeeper had no chance.

“It was a really good goal,” Hackworth said. “It was very well-taken. It was opportunistic, and certainly for him it was pretty exciting.”

Of course, everything about Pfeffer’s first preseason with the Union has been exciting. And despite being one of the youngest players ever to play in MLS, the 16-year-old midfielder has not been overwhelmed at all during camp, even through long trips to Florida and now Greece.

“This is his dream,” Hackworth said. “Every time I see Zach, he’s the epitome of living the dream. His smile is ear to ear. Other guys think of a 20-day preseason camp being long and grueling. He doesn’t see it that way.”

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