Arrow up that takes you to the top of the page

U15 USYNT Vlatko Markovic Tournament Recap

Eyebrow graphic
May 2024
The United States under-15 team won the sixth edition of the Vlatko Markovic tournament in Croatia. They beat Croatia 2-0, lost to England in the very last minute of the match 4-3, beat Morocco 4-2 and beat Japan 1-0 to bring home the trophy. 

This group of 2009 born players have now played in seven international matches, also beating Portugal and Italy in previous tournaments. They’ve done all of this without Cavan Sullivan who plays up with the 2008 team and more recently without Mathis Albert, who was also promoted to the 2008 team. 

The 2009 class is widely and highly regarded and their on the field output has supported that sentiment.
USYNT U15 team that won the Vlatko Markovic tournament in Croatia

Performance review


Both keepers played well. Both Tobias Szewcyk and James Donaldson started two matches each, Donaldson getting the final. Neither had egregious errors that I saw, both were pretty positionally sound and each made some big plays to save goals. Szewcyk showed a higher ceiling, with some pretty acrobatic saves and some elite moments in distribution. Donaldson had two important instinctual plays to help retain the clean sheet in the final against Japan.


The report card on this group was mixed, but the overall ability of this group is as high as any we’ve seen in a while for this position. The two standouts were Alexito Gomez and Prince Forfor, both started and played incredibly well in the final. Gomez played a few great long-ball, through balls that led to dangerous transitions, one of which ended in an Omar Hassan goal. 

Forfor has quickly turned into an absolute lockdown defender. I am not sure he was beat in a one on one situation in the entire tournament, he was dominant. While he wasn’t super adventurous going forward, he had flashes that reminded you how special he can be. Forfor is looking like a really special left-back prospect. 

Edward Chadwick was up and down. He had some really nice defensive moments and did a good job breaking pressure on occasion, but he was beaten a few times as well. Liam Devan played more left-back than left center-back. He had some disruptive moments at left-back, but struggled to connect play when building out of the back. 

Manu Romero started at left-back in the first game against Croatia and struggled defensively and to connect with the midfield. When he moved to left-wing he flourished and did so again later in the tournament. He is likely a left-back long-term, but he is currently more effective as a winger. 


Tyson Espy was the standout for this group for me. His athleticism, 1v1 defensive abilities and simple, but effective distribution stood out.

Hugo Berg had some nice moments on the ball, but was still inconsistent with his positioning and decision making on the ball.

Astin Mbaye made some quality defensive plays, but his distribution was a bit of an issue.

Mateo McClean was simple, reliable on the ball, but lost some runners in the box that ended up in goals. This is a position group that could see some turnover when this team gets together next. 


I was really intrigued to see this group work together. Overall, I saw mixed results. Paul Sokoloff and KK Spivey were the standouts. Spivey showed why he is the most talented player in this group. He did some dribbling ball progressions that make your jaw drop and he is a real ball winner defensively. His passing decisions and touch need work, it’s probably the weakest part of his game right now. 

Sokoloff had a really good tournament. He was extremely clever on the ball and created a lot of danger all tournament. He has some physical limitations that bring questions to his ceiling, but right now he is such an effective player. 

Adri Mehmeti is one of the top players in this group, but it wasn’t his best tournament. He was a step out of position on too many occasions and while he did have some nice passing moments, he has set such an incredibly high bar as a distributor  that anything less leaves you wanting. He had a real slippage problem against England. 

Lukas Bruegmann and Steel Cook were fine, but didn’t stand out in any particular way even though Bruegmann did have a nice goal against Morocco. 

This was the first time I had a chance to scout Landry Walker from San Antonio FC. They don’t play in MLS Next so it is hard to get game footage. I came away pretty impressed. He has a nice physical profile and he is an animal in duels. He also showed pretty good technique on the ball. I’d like to see him expand his passing repertoire and he definitely struggled to adjust to the speed of play. He turned the ball over a lot in the first couple matches, but he adjusted decently as the tournament went on. I think I would prefer him at the six instead of the box to box role he was playing in this tournament.  


The winger group lost Mathis Albert because he was promoted to the 2008 team, so a lot of the production fell on Omar Hassan and he delivered. He ended the tournament with three goals and was named the tournament MVP. He scored the tournament winning goal with a great individual play, emblematic of his game — he hustled to win a fifty-fifty ball and then used a brilliant dribbling technique and nice finish. Hassan is a volume player. He continues to attack, attack and attack some more. He doesn’t always win, but when he does he is really dangerous in open space. 

Will Ostrander, Darrius Hyte and Mattheo Dimareli were all also very effective. Ostrander showed great playmaking and one on one cleverness. Dimareli beat a ton of people one on one, but struggled a little with his final ball. Hyte also had some really nice ball progression moments and attacking moves, but struggled a little in recovery at times. 


Zidane Cadet was the story of the tournament for me. He looks like the number one number nine for this group until proven otherwise. I’ve always liked him when watching him at Inter Miami, but he tends to get lost in games. He really showed up in this tournament and showed a really well-rounded skill set. He was effective in hold up play and showed an ability to execute tricky one touch passes. He also moved well off of the ball and got in dangerous positions. He was incredibly effective and creative when facing the goal and dribbling at defenders, looking like a winger at times. And he was also fairly effective against the ball in the press. Overall, I left very impressed with Cadet, who is also the youngest player on the team. 

Max Steelman had been the preferred striker for this group, and while I don't think he did anything to hurt his standing, he did not shine quite like Cadet did. I would expect these two to be the preferred options going forward until someone else really steps up or one of these guys dips. 


I’d give the overall performance for this group a seven out of ten based on what I believe they are capable of. Yes, they won the tournament and beat three solid teams and went toe to toe with a very good England team, but I still felt there were aspects of their performances that were lacking. 

The team’s high press was very effective. The athleticism, physicality and determination of the group was on display and they made each of their opponents uncomfortable. There were also many impressive 1v1 moments, both offensively and defensively. The talent level of some of these players were on full display and they were able to execute individual moments that were very impressive. 

Collectively, I thought that there was some messiness in the way they tried to connect through the midfield. I thought that the team played with a bit more fluidity and connectedness in their last tournament in Portugal. The lack of team continuity also showed up defensively. The team got stretched between lines too consistently and the space between the midfield and backline got wide too often, especially against England. It’s understandable that this would happen with a Youth National Team that gets together once every couple of months and also understandable that the individual actions were enough to get them the trophy. 

What's next?

I believe this is the last time this group will be together under the u15 designation. As far as I am aware, they will gather again in September for a domestic training camp and by then they will be considered the u16 group and the 2010s will be the next u15 cycle. 

It will be interesting to see how much turnover there is in the squad between now and then. There are still a lot of really talented players that have not been in a team camp: Ethan Degny, August Nystrom, Gustavo Perrelli Borges, Jack Francka, Makai Wells, Kashan Hines, Ademar Chávez and Malik Jakupovic are all high quality players that have not been given an opportunity. 

The 2009 class remains a super exciting class that will have high expectations going forward.

Scouting Services

In need of scouting services? I got you. I have experience providing services for clubs, agencies and publications.