CHESTER, Pa. — Philadelphia Union Zach Pfeffer would rather be with the US U-17 national team as they begin their quest for a World Cup this weekend.
But as far as fallback plans go, remaining with the Union and continuing to work toward his professional debut is a pretty good one.
“Of course every player wants to represent his country at the World Cup,” Pfeffer told MLSsoccer.com. “Of course it’s on my mind. It’s a little disappointing, but at the same time I’m in a good place right now. I’m doing well. So I’ll just continue to build off that.”
Pfeffer – who’s made five appearances with the national team, including a recent international tournament in April – said he wasn’t sure why he wasn’t included on the roster this time around and hasn’t heard from U-17 head coach Wilmer Cabrera about it. The young midfielder was sidelined for a couple of weeks last month after undergoing an appendectomy, but he didn’t think that played a factor in Cabrera’s decision.
“I just have to put it to the side and keep moving on,” Pfeffer said. “Hopefully, I’ll move on to the U-18s and then to the U-20 World Cup.”
Before then, he has a more immediate goal: getting onto the field for a league game. So far this season, Pfeffer has only played in Reserve League contests and friendlies, but he has been included on the gameday roster for Philly’s last two games.
“That’s definitely a good start – two consecutive weeks is real nice,” said Pfeffer, the Union’s first Home Grown signing. “It’s getting my confidence up a little bit. Hopefully I’ll continue to do well in training and continue to make the gameday roster and maybe that debut will come soon.”
The Union coaches haven’t told him anything specific about when his debut will come but it certainly appears to be on the horizon. And when the time does come, he’ll forget all about what he called the “minor speed bump” of being left off the US U-17 World Cup roster.
“Whether it’s home or away,” the 16-year-old said, “playing in a league game would be awesome.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.