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Zachary Pfeffer

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U.S. U-20 MNT’s Zach Pfeffer Benefits from ‘Unorthodox Path’ Abroad

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team forward Zach Pfeffer has quite the resume at a young age. From signing with Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union at age 15 to spending a year with Hoffenheim in Germany, the 19-year-old Pfeffer has already had a busy professional career.

Pfeffer, like many other athletes, played multiple sports as a youth. But since he was 3 years old, he naturally gravitated toward soccer and has dedicated his time to following the dream of playing the sport at the highest level.

“For whatever reason – I don’t know the exact reason – but soccer was my favorite sport to play,” said Pfeffer, who recently scored the game-winning goal for the U.S. U-20 MNT during a 2-1 victory against Chile at the 2014 National Training Center Invitational. “It was my passion. I took that, ran with it, trained as much as possible, watched and studied the game as much as possible, and just tried to be the best player that I could be. I’ve always had that goal, that mindset to be a professional player since I was very young. I’ve tried to focus in on that goal and work hard for it.”

The goal to become a professional player came to fruition just before his 16th birthday when he signed a professional contract with the Union. Pfeffer has played with the first team on numerous occasions, appearing in eight MLS games to date and multiple friendlies.

“I’ve been in that professional environment now for about four years,” said Pfeffer, who also has ties to the Development Academy’s FC DELCO. “It’s a little bit unorthodox of a path for a typical American player. I’ve been able to grow and mature and be a part of the Union for the last four years and I think that’s helped me to grow and progress as a player.”

Pfeffer was away from the Union organization for one year as he was loaned to German club Hoffenheim, where he played mostly with the U-19s. He also made appearances with the U-23s (the reserve team) and took part in multiple training sessions with the first team. U.S. U-20 MNT teammate Russell Canouse was is part of the Hoffenheim club, providing Pfeffer with some familiarity.

It was a valuable time for Pfeffer as both a player and a person.

“It was a great experience,” Pfeffer said. “I was by myself in a foreign country for the first time for an extended period of time; it wasn’t just a few weeks, it was for a whole year. I was forced to learn the language as well. All of those things really make you grow up and make you learn more about yourself. You have to become independent and really mature quickly.”

Being exposed to the German style has contributed to his improvement as a player. It has helped to round out his game and apply it as he plays for the U.S. U-20 MNT and in MLS.

“I think as a soccer player it’s always good to be exposed to different styles of play and different cultures,” Pfeffer said. “You want to be as well-rounded of a player as you can be. I’m just trying to mix everything that I’ve learned from the German style of play with what I’ve learned growing up here in the U.S. and what I’m learning now playing in MLS.”

Playing in the Youth National Team system since his early teenage years, Pfeffer sees familiar faces every time he comes to camp with the U-20s. He has played with or against keeper Zack Steffen and Canouse since he was 13 in a club setting or within the U.S. National Team system.

With his long history with the U.S. MNT and impressive club and professional career thus far, Pfeffer is hoping to add the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup to his list.

“I’m very excited,” Pfeffer said. “I’ve been representing the National Team since U-14. This is just the next step and the next part of the progression through the National Team system . It’s obviously very exciting to be able to represent your country. Hopefully I’ll be able to be a part of that and qualify for the World Cup.”

Ramos Names U-20 MNT Roster for NTC Invitational

CHICAGO (July 10, 2014) – U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos has named a 20-player roster for the 2014 NTC Invitational Tournament that will take place at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center in Carson, California, from July 14-18.

The U-20 MNT will gather for training camp in Carson beginning July 10 before playing its first games of the NTC Invitational against Chile on July 14 (6 p.m. PT) and Bermuda on July 16 (4 p.m. PT). The U.S. concludes tournament play against Australia on July 18, a match that will be broadcast on ussoccer.com at 7 p.m. PT. The day’s other match between Bermuda and Chile will also be broadcast on ussoccer.com beginning at 4 p.m. PT.

The U.S. roster for the tournament is made up of a solid group of players with extensive experience in the U.S. Youth National Team Program as 11 players have reached a minimum of 10 YNT call-ups already in their young international careers. Six of those 11, including Russell Canouse (TSG Hoffenheim), Conor Donovan (Carolina RailHawks Academy), Shaquell Moore (FC Dallas Academy), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union), John Requejo Jr. (Club Tijuana) and Zack Steffen (Maryland) all have over 20 career YNT events under their belts, with Requejo Jr. leading the way with 33 to his name.

Dating back to last November’s international training camp in Verona, Italy, when this current iteration of the U-20 MNT was assembled, seven players have been included in a roster-high four U-20 MNT events: goalkeeper Santiago Castano (New York Red Bulls), defenders Donovan, Moore and Requejo Jr., midfielder Marco Delgado (Chivas USA) and forwards Pfeffer and Benji Lopez (Arizona United SC). Steffen, who was part of Ramos’ squad for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, is also be making his fourth appearance on a U.S. U-20 roster.

The roster blends a good mix of foreign- and domestic-based talents with eight players plying their trade outside the U.S., including Club Tijuana trio Fernando Arce – receiving his first call-up to a U.S. YNT event – Paul Arriola and Requejo Jr., who represent the most players named to the squad from one club.

Arriola, Castano, Delgado, Lopez, Moore, Pfeffer, Requejo Jr., and Steffen are among 12 players on the roster who helped the team to a second-place finish in the Gordon Jago Super Group at the 2014 Dallas Cup earlier this year in its last international competition.

After the conclusion of the NTC Invitational, Ramos and his staff will look to assemble the team again in early September for an international training camp.

U.S. U-20 MNT NTC Invitational Tournament and Broadcast Schedule:
Date                Teams             Time [PT]                 Location                                        Broadcast
July 14                        AUS v BER     3 p.m.*             Mooch Myernick Field                        none
                                    USA v CHI      6 p.m.*            Mooch Myernick Field                        none
July 16                        AUS v CHI      1 p.m.              Mooch Myernick Field                        none
                                    USA v BER     4 p.m.              Mooch Myernick Field                        none
July 18                        BER v CHI      4 p.m.              StubHub Center                      ussoccer.com
                                    USA v AUS     7 p.m.               StubHub Center                      ussoccer.com

*Changed from original kickoff time

Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Santiago Castano (New York Red Bulls; Union City, N.J.), Zack Steffen (Maryland; Downington, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (7): Michael Amick (UCLA; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Conor Donovan (Carolina RailHawks Academy; Fuquay Varina, N.C.), Chris Odoi-Atsem (Maryland; Mitchellville, Md.), Shaquell Moore (FC Dallas; Powder Springs, Ga.), John Requejo Jr. (Club Tijuana; Carpinteria, Calif.), Caleb Smith (Solar Chelsea SC; Arlington, Texas), Jesus Vasquez (UANL Tigres; San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Fernando Arce (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Russell Canouse (TSG  Hoffenheim; Lancaster, Pa.), Marco Delgado (Chivas USA; Glendora, Calif.), Romain Gall (Lorient; Herndon, Va.), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland; Santa Cruz, Calif.), Jacori Hayes (Wake Forest; Bowie, Md.)
FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Bradford Jamieson (LA Galaxy II; Los Angeles, Calif.), Benji Lopez (Arizona United SC; San Diego, Calif.), Andrija Novakovich (Reading; Muskego, Wis.), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union; Dresher, Pa.)

U-20 MNT Downs Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 at Dallas Cup

DALLAS, Texas (April 14, 2014) – Forward Zach Pfeffer sparked the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team to its second win in as many days at the 35th Dallas Cup by scoring one goal and assisting another in the American’s 3-0 win against German side Eintracht Frankfurt on Monday at Richland College.

The U-20 MNT (2-0-0, 6pts) heads Bracket C of the Gordon Jago Super Group, followed by Club Athletico River Plate (1-1-0, 3pts), UANL Tigres (0-1-1, 1pt) and Eintrach Frankfurt (0-1-1, 1pt). The three Bracket winners advance to the tournament semi-finals and will be joined by a second-placed wild card team with the most points after round robin play. In the event of a tie, the team with the greater amount of goals scored advances.

Pfeffer put the U-20 MNT in the driver’s seat by setting up and scoring a goal in a five-minute window that overlapped the halftime break. He first set up the opening goal for Benji Lopez by dribbling into the Frankfurt box and cutting a pass back for his fellow forward to lash home in the 43rd minute.

Lopez was then integral to the build-up of Pfeffer’s strike in the 48th minute, crossing the ball in for Lynden Gooch to put a shot on goal that was blocked by Frankfurt goalkeeper Julian Bibleka, and Pfeffer was on site to stab the rebound into the net for a 2-0 U.S. lead.

The U-20 MNT grabbed a final late tally in the 87th minute through substitute Romain Gall, who headed in a Paul Arriola cross after he picked the pocket of a Frankfurt defender deep in the German club’s defensive half.

The U-20 MNT finishes Bracket C play against Mexico’s UANL Tigres on Wednesday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT at the Cotton Bowl.

- U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Date:
April 14, 2014
Competition:
Dallas Cup
Venue:
Richland College Field #10
Kickoff:
4:00 p.m. CT
Weather:
60 degrees, windy

Scoring Summary:       1          2          F
USA                               1          2          3
EIN                                0          0          0

USA – Benji Lopez (Zach Pfeffer)           43rd minute
USA – Zach Pfeffer                                  48
USA – Romain Gall (Paul Arriola)          87

Lineups:
USA:
12-Santiago Castano; 2-Shaquell Moore (6-Kellyn Acosta, 46), 13-Erik Palmer Brown, 18-Trevor Haberkorn, 15-John Requejo Jr., 16-Lynden Gooch (11-Rubio Rubin, 56), 17-Luis Felipe (23-Jordan Allen, 76), 14-Amando Moreno, (10-Romain Gall), 7-Paul Arriola, 20-Benji Lopez, 24-Zach Pfeffer
Subs Not Used: 1-Zack Steffen, 5-Sullaiman Dainkeh, 9-Ben Spencer

Head Coach: Tab Ramos

EIN: 22-Julian Bibleka; 2-Marco Meyerhoefer, 5-Ozgur Ozdemir, 13-Moussa Ouattara, 3-Niclas Mohr, 6-Hermann Dorner, 7-Eray Eren, 8-Illia Azouaghi, 10-Joel Gerezgiher, 18-Raffael Grigorian (20-Clay Verkaj, 17), 11-Marvin Helm
Subs Not Used: 1-Yannick Zummack, 4-Viktor Talevski, 9-Noah Michel, 12-Yannick Wolf, 14-Miklas Kunzel, 15-David Roesler, 16-Manuel Konate Lueken, 17-Loris Weiss, 19-Fabian Lifka, 21-Dominik Reining
Head Coach: Daniyel Cimen

Stats Summary: USA / EIN
Shots: 12 / 3
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 2 / 1
Fouls: 10 / 14
Offside:  2 / 4 

Misconduct Summary:
EIN – Clay Verkaj                       Caution             57th minute
USA – Benji Lopez                     Caution             77
USA – Amando Moreno             Caution             70
EIN – Julian Bibleka                   Caution             84
USA – Erik Palmer-Brown         Caution             90+4

Officials:
n/a

Ramos Names 21-Player Squad for Dallas Cup

CHICAGO (April 9, 2014) – U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos has named a 21-player roster for the 35th edition of the Dallas Cup, which takes place April 13-20 in Dallas, Texas. The U.S. is in Bracket C of the Gordon Jago Super Group along with U-19 sides from Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany, River Plate of Argentina and UANL Tigres of Mexico.

Making its fifth all-time appearance at the competition and first since 2010, the U-20 MNT’s first match will be the marquee game of the opening day of the tournament. Following a pair of Super Group matches and the Welcome World Opening Ceremonies, the U.S. will play River Plate at 6:30 p.m. CT in the Cotton Bowl on April 13. The U.S. then plays its second match less than 24 hours later against Eintracht Frankfurt on the campus of Richland College at 4 p.m. CT.

The U.S. concludes Bracket C play against UANL Tigres on April 16. The location and time of the match will be determined by results in the first two rounds across Super Group Brackets A, B and C with the purpose being to hold the two most potentially dramatic games of bracket play in the Cotton Bowl.

The roster relies heavily on players who have previously been involved in the U.S. Youth National Team program or received a call-up to the current edition of the U.S. U-20 MNT. Nineteen players either took part in the team’s foreign training camp in Verona, Italy last November or its domestic training camp held in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., this past January.

Of the two players receiving their first call-up to the U-20 National Team, only Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City) has previously represented the U.S. at the Youth National Team level; Jesus Vazquez (UANL Tigres) is receiving his first call-up at any level for the U.S.

Also a relative newcomer to the Youth National Team program, Luis Felipe (Cruzeiro) is receiving his second call-up to a U.S. roster; his only previous experience with the U.S. came during the U-20 MNT’s recent January camp.

The next event for the U.S. U-20 MNT after the Dallas Cup will be a domestic training camp held at North Carolina State University in May.

Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2)
: Santiago Castano (NewYork Red Bulls; Union City, N.J.), Zack Steffen (Maryland; Downington, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (8):
Michael Amick (UCLA; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Sullaiman Dainkeh (Maryland; Reston, Va.), Trevor Haberkorn (Furman; Roanoke, Texas), Matthew Miazga (New York Red Bulls; Clifton, N.J.), Shaquell Moore (Unattached; Powder Springs, Ga.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting KC; Lee’s Summit, Mo.), John Requejo Jr. (Real So Cal; Carpinteria, Calif.), Jesus Vazquez (UANL Tigres; San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (5):
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), Marco Delgado (Chivas USA; Glendora, Calif.), Luis Felipe (Cruzeiro; Ouro Branco, Brazil), Romain Gall (FC Lorient; Herndon, Va.), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland; Santa Cruz, Calif.)
FORWARDS (6):
Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake; Rochester, N.Y.), Benji Lopez (Real Salt Lake; San Diego, Calif.), Amando Moreno (Club Tijuana; Morganville, N.J.), Zach Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union; Dresher, Pa.), Rubio Rubin (Unattached; Beaverton, Ore.), Ben Spencer (Indy Eleven; Albuquerque, N.M.)

Additional Notes:

  • The U-20 MNT roster is made up of players primarily born in 1995, with the exceptions being Luis Felipe, Shaquell Moore, John Requejo Jr. and Rubio Rubin, who were all born in 1996, as well as the only 1997-born player, Erik Palmer-Brown.
  • Sixteen players have ties to U.S. Soccer Delevopment academy clubs including: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Jordan Allen (Revolution Empire/Real Salt Lake AZ), Michael Amick (De Anza Force), Santiago Castano (New York Red Bulls), Marco Delgado (Chivas USA), Romain Gall (Real Salt Lake AZ), Trevor Haberkorn (Solar Chelsea SC), Benji Lopez (Real Salt Lake AZ), Matthew Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Moore (IMG Academy), Amando Moreno (New York Red Bulls), Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City), Zach Pfeffer (FC DELCO), Requejo Jr. (Real So Cal), Ben Spencer (Real Salt Lake AZ/Chivas USA) and Zack Steffen (FC DELCO)
  • Acosta and Steffen were teammates on the USA’s 2013 U-20 World Cup team.
  • Thirteen players on the team began their time with the U.S. Youth National Team program at the U-14/15 Boys’ National Team level, including: Acosta, Allen, Castano, Delgado, Gooch, Haberkorn, Miazga, Palmer-Brown, Pfeffer, Requejo Jr., Rubin, Spencer and Steffen.
  • Nine players are signed with professional clubs in the U.S. at either the MLS or NASL level: Acosta (FC Dallas), Allen (Real Salt Lake), Castano (New York Red Bulls), Delgado (Chivas USA), Benji Lopez (Real Salt Lake), Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City), Pfeffer (Philadelphia Union) and Ben Spencer (Indy Eleven).
  • Eight players took part in both of the U-20 MNT’s first two training camps of the current cycle that began last fall, including: Castano, Delgado, Lopez, Miazga, Moore, Moreno, Pfeffer and Requejo Jr.
  • Four players only participated in the team’s foreign training camp Verona, Italy, last November, including: Acosta, Gall, Gooch and Spencer, while a further seven only attended the January camp in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., including: Allen, Amick, Dainkeh, Felipe, Haberkorn and Rubin.
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