Young Philadelphia Union midfielder Zach Pfeffer will spend 2013 in Germany rather than MLS, joining Bundesliga side TSG Hoffenheim on a year-long loan deal, the Union announced on Tuesday.
The 17-year-old Pfeffer is one of the more promising youth prospects in the MLS system, having helped lead the Philadelphia Union academy team to the Generation adidas Cup title while also earning looks with the U.S. Under-18 national team.
The loan deal should be seen more as a year-long training stint, with playing time for the Bundesliga side a highly-unlikley proposition. He should still benefit from the experience of training with one of the better youth set-ups in Europe and a club with several ties to American soccer. Along with featuring U.S. national team players Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams, Hoffenheim also has American winger Joe Gyau on the books, as well as youth team standout Russell Canouse, a close friend of Pfeffer’s.
Pfeffer was unlikely to be a key figure in the Union’s 2013 plans, but joining Hoffenheim could allow him more opportunities for quality playing time with the Hoffenheim U-19 team.
The loan move is a very interesting one, and could wind up setting a trend among teams that have young players who are talented but not quite ready to earn playing time in MLS. With the MLS Reserve League still just a 10-game season, teams are desperate to find more ways to earn their best youth talent regular playing time.
What do you think of this development? Like the idea of a teenager player spending a year in Europe, or think he’d be better off staying with the Union?
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