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U15 USYNT Camp Roster Analysis

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May 2024
The United States U15 team — the 2009 age group — are heading to Croatia on May 10th for the 6th annual Vlatko Marković tournament. The United States are in Group A and will be accompanied by hosts Croatia, as well as Morocco and England. Belgium, Japan, France and Portugal are in Group B.

The tournament schedule:

5/15 v. Croatia @ 11:30am EST
5/16 v. England @ 5:30am EST
5/17 v. Morocco @ 5:30am EST
5/19 v. TBD @ TBD (likely will play like for like placed team from Group B)

This is the last time that this group will have a chance to leave an impression on the staff until September. The next time they get back together they will be designated as the U16 age group. The U15 Concacaf Championships happens every two years, so this group will not get a chance to compete in that regional event.
Manu Romero, winger/left-back for Real Madrid who is also eligible for Uruguay and Spain.

Roster analysis

Goalkeepers

Tobias Szrewczyk (RBNY), James Donaldonson (Atlanta United)

Szrewczyk and Donaldson seem to be the consensus top two keepers for this group according to the key decision makers. I don't necessarily agree, but they continue to be the selections.

Full-backs

LB, Manu Romero (Real Madrid), LB, Prince Forfor (Columbus Crew), RB, Alexito Gomez (RBNY), RB, Edward Chadwick (LA Galaxy)

This is one of the best full-back groups I have seen from a U.S. age group in a while and there are very good players not on this list too.

Romero and Forfor can both play as wingers and are incredibly explosive and dynamic left-footed players going forward.

Gomez is my top rated right-back and can also provide cover at center-back.

Chadwick is a well-rounded right-back that is a great leader and communicator.

Center-backs

Astin Mbaye (RBNY), Tyson Espy (LAFC), Liam Devan (Nashville), Hugo Berg (Chicago Fire), Matteo McClean (LA Galaxy),

Mbaye, Espy and Devan have been with this group from the beginning. Mbaye and Espy are similar profile players — long, with good range and decent passing ability.

Devan and Berg are the left-footed center-backs. Devan can also deputize at left-back. Berg was invited to the last domestic team camp and apparently impressed enough to stick.

McClean makes a team camp for the first team after not being in any team camps before which is pretty unique. He has a very good physical profile and has shown good development over the last several months.

Center/Defensive-mids

DM, Adri Mehmeti (RBNY), DM, Landry Walker (San Antonio FC), CM, KK Spivey (San Jose Earthquakes), CM, Lukas Bruegmann (Houston Dynamo)

Mehmeti and Spivey are two of the top players in this age group and are no-brainer selections.

I have never seen Walker play, but he was awarded an academy contract with San Antonio's first team this year and is well regarded within that organization. He is also on Austin FC's protected list.

Bruegmann is an interesting profile and a player I admire. He is tall, technical and left-footed. He can control the tempo of play and ping passes across the pitch.

Outside of Spivey, this age group lacks box to box midfielders, which is unusual for a United States age group.

Attacking-mids/Wingers

W, Omar Hassan (Seattle Sounders), W, Mattheo Dimareli (Houston Dynamo), W, Darris Hyte (Chicago Fire), W, Immanuel Ewing (Columbus Crew), AM, Christopher Cook (FC Dallas) , AM, Will Ostrander (San Jose Earthquakes), AM, Paul Sokoloff (RBNY)

Hassan is the top winger in this team and one of the top players in the 2009 age group.

Dimareli returns to the team after joining the last tournament in Portugal. He is a left-footed, right-winger with good technical ability and a desire to play direct.

Hyte and Ewing stick after getting a chance in the last domestic camp. Hyte is a tricky, intelligent, and productive winger that will be fun to watch. Ewing is undersized, but very quick and creative attacker that is best suited on the wing, but can also find the ball in central spaces.

The other three guys: Cook, Ostrander and Sokoloff, are more effective from central positions, but can all play as inverted wingers if needed. All three are strong attacking-midfielder types.

Center-forwards

Max Steelman (LA Galaxy), Zidane Cadet (IMCF)

Steelman is the clear top center-forward from this age group in my opinion and Cadet has a ton of talent and upside. Cadet got his first chance with this group in the last team camp and must have impressed.

This has been a revolving door position for this team so far and it will be interested to see if Cadet can stick around.

Who’s Missing and Why?

At this age group, the main reason for players missing from camps are because they are not selected or they are injured.

Graduated beyond this level

AM, Cavan Sullivan, Philadelphia Union (2009)
W, Mathis Albert, Borussia Dortmund (2009)

Sullivan has never played with his own age group and Albert was recently promoted to the U16s (2008s).

Injured

CB/DM, Caleb Simmons, RBNY (2009)

Simmons is a player that I believe will significantly help this group once he gets a chance. He joined RBNY in February and has caught they eyes of USSF, but he is working through a groin injury that made him unavailable for a regional ID camp and for this tournament.

DM, Joaquin Cunningham, LA Galaxy (2009)
Cunningham has been out injured for the last couple of months. He was in the first couple teams for this age group before that.

Not selected

GK, Marcelo Avalos, San Jose Earthquakes (2009)
Avalos' continuous exclusion from this team is one of the most puzzling decisions by the USSF decision makers for this age group. He continues to get called into Mexico's U15 team.

GK, Leonard Prescott, Bayern Munich (2009)
I am not sure if Prescott was not selected, not released or if he declined because he is focused on the Germany project right now. What I have heard is that Prescott is an elite keeper prospect and is likely a player that USSF is tracking and continuously recruiting. He was recently selected to the first Germany U15 team.

GK, Keller Abbott, Columbus Crew (2009)
Abbott was invited to the last domestic camp but apparently didn't do enough to overtake Donaldson and Szrewczyk.

RB/LB, Linkon Ream, Real Salt Lake (2009)
Ream is one of the most talented 2009s to not yet make a team camp so far. He can play both left-back, right-back and winger. His time will come eventually.

RB, Daniel Wright, Austin FC (2009)
Wright is a high ceiling player that may become one of the top right-backs from this group when it is all said and done.

LB, Gabriel Florentino, IMCF (2009)
Florentino has been selected to the last three camps and appears to have been passed up on the left-back depth chart.

LB, Declan Lannon, Philadelphia Union (2009)
He isn't at the same level as Romero and Forfor, but he leads the next tier of left-backs for me.

CB, Ethan Degny, Atlanta United (2009)
Degny, like Ream, is another top 2009 player that has not been selected to a team camp for this age group. He is a Neil Pierre type profile and is the only 2009 center-back that has been promoted to the U17 level for his club.

CB, August Nystrom, Portland Timbers (2009)
Nystrom is one of the better distributing center-backs from this class and is of similar quality to the players selected for this team.

CB, Josh Munson, RBNY (2009)
Munson is nowhere near a finished product, but he is around 6-4 or 6-5, mobile, left-footed and shows passing potential. That is a profile that is going to get a lot of attention and chances.

CB, Edgar Rodriguez, San Jose Earthquakes (2009)
Rodriguez is another high quality ball playing center-back from this age group that deserves a look.

DM, Jack Francka, Sporting KC (2009)
Francka hit a growth spurt in the second part of this season and has looked like one of the best defensive-midfielders not named Adri Mehmeti over the last few months.

CM, Gustavo Perelli Borges, Achilles FC (2009)
Borges was at the last regional ID camp for this age group and I was told that he was being played at center-forward for a lot of the practice, which isn't his natural position, but when he was moved to midfield he played well. He is as talented as anyone on the selected team.

CM, Roko Pehar, Chicago Fire (2009)
Pehar is one of the best passing midfielders in this age group. He was in the last team camp, but was not selected to this tournament.

CM/CF, Da’vian Kimbrough, Sacramento Republic (2010)
There are not any 2010s on this team so it's not a big surprise that Kimbrough was not selected. He will be a high priority player for the next U15 cycle.

AM, Ademar Chavez, LAFC (2009)
Chavez might be the best pure 10 in this age group, but he has only been with Mexico so far. I am not sure if that is his preference or if USSF hasn't selected him.

AM, Xander Newstead, Ajax (2009)
Newstead, formerly of De Anza in the South Bay Area, California, was invited to the last domestic camp, but was not selected to this tournament.

AM, Robert Turdean, Chicago Fire (2010)
Turdean is my top rated 2010 as of right now and while he has been with this age group in the past, it looks like USSF has decided to bring 2009s only to this tournament.

AM, William Recupero, Boston Bolts (2010)
Recupero is my second rated 2010 and he isn't far behind Turdean.

W, Makai Wells, Barca Residency (2009)
Wells has been one of the best wingers I have seen this year at the U15 level. He recently moved from D.C. United to Barca and deserves a look.

W, Kashan Hines, Sporting KC (2009)
I am very high on Hines and I think he is in the mix for top wingers in this age group not named Albert or Hassan.

W, Kairo Smith-Phillips, Crystal Palace (2009)
Smith-Phillips' highlight tape is pretty impressive, but I have not seen game tape. I know that USSF is aware of him, so he either was not selected, not released or did not accept the invite.

W/CF, Jamil Danjiji, Columbus Crew (2010)
Danjiji is another 2010 that is close to being ready to help this age group. He could be an answer at CF.

CF, Zach Olah, Orlando City (2009)
Olah has started to turn it on this year and he could be a player that USSF looks at in the near future.

CF, Malik Jakupovic, Philadelphia Union (2009)
Jakupovic is very talented, but streaky striker.

Roster Grade: A-

It's always difficult to accurately grade these rosters because I don't have all the information on who was not released, who declined and what the staff is looking for from each position.

Overall, I think that the roster construction makes sense and there are a ton of talented players to be excited about, even with Sullivan and Albert not being available to this group. There is a good balance of continuity between players that have been in a lot of camps together and some experimentation with newer players — nine of the 24 players will have a chance to get their first USYNT cap.

I don't give it an A or an A+ because I do think there are some objectively head scratching decisions. Avalos, for me, is the top keeper in this class and a Mexican-American dual-national. I don't understand what the selection staff doesn't see there. I also think that Degny, Borges, Chavez, Wells and Hines provide clear upgrades at their respective positions.

Overall, I am really excited to see this extremely talented group of players perform together against top competition.

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