“My heart is 100% set in Philadelphia” Zach Pfeffer discusses his career so far

Zach Pfeffer is a name that will be familiar to Soccer fans across the United States. The 20 year old has been making waves in the world of Soccer, making his first season start for the Philadelphia Union against FC Dallas and most recently called up to the U23 international squad to face Denmark U23’s. His presence on the field simply can not be undermined as his versatility has helped give the Union an extra level of depth in the midfield.

We caught up with the US International following his game against Denmark to talk about the past, present, future and even a dream starting eleven!

Hey Zach, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Especially so soon after your recent USA U23 cap against Denmark. How are you feeling right now?

-No problem at all! It’s my pleasure. Right now I’m in a very good mental state. I’m feeling and playing very confidently, and feel strong physically. I’ve had a very long last week of playing and traveling, but it’s all part of the business and what I love to do!

You played 31 minutes in the narrow loss to Denmark, what was the experience like for you?

-First of all, the experience with the U23s in Denmark was great. It was my first time with that group as I am normally with the U20s, but it was a great experience. All of the players and coaches were great and treated me very well. As for the game, it was a great experience, and I just made sure to come on the field when my name was called and help the team as much as possible. I think it was a very good game for me personally!

It must feel pretty special to represent your country at such a young age, how does it feel when you walk out onto the pitch wearing the national kit?

-It’s always an honor and blessing to get called up to play for the National Team. I feel very blessed to have been able to represent my country many times at all the different age groups! Walking out onto the pitch wearing the national kit is an amazing feeling. There is nothing quite like it. Also, hearing the national anthem before the game gives me so much motivation to work hard and do everything I can for my country!

The Denmark side you faced also featured some big names. How did the experience differ from a game with the Philadelphia Union for instance?

-Denmark was a very good team. I thought they moved the ball really well and had great movement off of the ball as well. They were also physically a very big team with a lot of height and power. I think the biggest difference was simply the fact that it was an international game on foreign soil, so that always makes for a difficult game.

So let’s talk about your MLS career so far. 2015 is set to be a big year for you as the Union attempt to make the playoffs. You have already had over 50 minutes of Football for the Union this year and we’re only a few games in whilst in the entirety of 2014 you had 82 total minutes. What do you think is the reason behind your increase in game time?

-First off, I certainly hope and think this will be a big year for me with the Union. I think the reason behind my increase in game time so far is how I came in and performed in preseason. I performed very well all throughout preseason and showed the coaches that I am willing to do the dirty work defensively. I’ve always been very creative and attack-minded, but now I have also added that extra defensive dimension to my game.mclaughlin-pfeffer

Coach Curtin has obviously shown a lot of faith in you and continued to back you following the red card you suffered against FC Dallas. Obiously this is water under the bridge and the team have moved on but what was your view on your first season start as a whole?

-Overall, I was very happy with my first start this season. Getting the red card was a bit unfortunate and disappointing because we were playing very well as a team, and I personally was performing very well. I had a great chance to score early on in the game and we created many good chances as a team. Now my focus is to get back into the starting lineup and continue right where I left off before the red card.

Until the 42nd minute you looked extremely impressive and settled into the role nicely. Is there a lot of chemistry between you and your teammates which helped this?

-Yes, I have a very good relationship with all of the guys on the team, and that translates to the game when were are on the field together.

There’s been a few changes on the stage during the offseason but has there been any behind the scenes changes for you? Perhaps a new training program or developing a different area of your game?

-I think as I mentioned before, the biggest change is that I have really focused on adding that strong defensive play to my overall game. My strengths have always been my skill and ability on the ball, and now I have added the hard work defensively which has made me a much better and mature player.

Having a togetherness is definitely going to aid in getting a result but the Union still haven’t got that elusive first win. What are your views on the season so far, are the Union in a position representative of their performances or do you think you perhaps deserve to have a number in the win column?

pfeffer-I definitely think we deserve to have a number in the win column. We’ve had some unfortunate things that have not gone our way early on, but we have played some very good soccer at times. The game in Salt Lake City against Real Salt Lake is a great example where we fully deserved to win the game. I know we will stick together as a group and remain positive, and the wins will start to roll in soon.

What has Coach Curtin been focusing on in training sessions to make sure the team find a string of good form? Has there been any big changes?

-The main focus is to compete every single minute of every game and training session. We need to make sure that every player works for the team and holds themselves accountable. We all have faith that the results will go our way very soon.

What are your goals for this season?

-My goals this season are to play a very large role in the team and to continue making strides as a player. I want to play in as many games as possible and get on the stat sheet as well with some goals and assists. I think the goals and assists will come with the more games that I play. Most importantly, I want to help the team make the playoffs

You’ve been with Philadelphia since a teenager and were the fourth youngest player to ever sign an MLS contract. Is your heart set in Philadelphia or is there an ambition to play outside of the MLS in the future?

-Philadelphia is my home! My heart is 100% set in Philadelphia, and this is where I want and hope to play for a very long time!

Having been with the Union from the start you have had some fantastic moments. What has been your personal career highlight?

-I’d say my personal career highlight has to be scoring my first MLS goal! It was a great moment for me and hopefully there will be many more goals to come!

One final question for you, if you could build a dream team of 10 other players from around the world to start alongside you, what would your starting 11 look like?

-In a 4-4-2…GK: Manuel Neuer DF: Jerome Boateng, Thiago Silva, Sergio Ramos, David Alaba MF: Neymar, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Eden Hazard, Arjen Robben, FW: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi


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