Zach Pfeffer is looking to accelerate the growth curve on his budding career, and he's going to Germany to do so.
The Philadelphia Union's 17-year-old Homegrown Player will be on loan with German Bundesliga outfit TSG 1899 Hoffenheim -- the club of U.S. internationals Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams and U.S. youth midfielder Russell Cannouse and parent club of U.S. winger Joe Gyau (currently on loan at St. Pauli) -- for 2013 as he eyes a crash course in career development to put him in position for first-team minutes sooner rather than later. Pfeffer will be on loan starting Jan. 7 through Dec. 31 of this coming year.
"We looked at it, and it was really probably the best spot for me in terms of my overall development as a player at this point in my career where I am, you know with my age and everything included in that," Pfeffer told the Union's official website. "The main thing is I need a place to play games, most importantly good, competitive games ... In [MLS] reserve league we have 10, and that's really not enough. Not even close to enough."
Pfeffer has found playing time hard to come by since signing with the club as a 15-year-old almost two years ago. He played just four first-team minutes in one appearance with the Union's first team this season after three appearances last season. Even if he cracks Hoffenheim's youth team or reserve team, he'll still likely end up with more playing minutes than he would have as a reserve with fewer options and opportunities in MLS.
"Obviously I am not going to go right in and everything is just going to be easy," Pfeffer said. "I'm going to have to prove my worth, and I am going to have to fight for a spot on the team every week, but at the same time, I'm still hopefully going to be playing a lot more games than I did here, so that's probably the most exciting thing."
The move is not the first transaction between Hoffenheim and the Union. Hoffenheim attacker Kai Herdling spent an early portion of the 2012 MLS season on loan with the Union before returning to the German club. The Union also recently sent another young Homegrown midfielder, Jimmy McLaughlin, to train with Hoffenheim for a 10-day period.
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