The final IMG Academy Top 150 Rankings for boys in the 2014 graduating class is out today and the final top five have forgone the college route to pursue professional contracts, four in Europe and one in the United States. Soon to be a member of FC Utrecht, Rubio Rubin lands at No. 1, having been the most consistent call-up to the U.S. Soccer youth system for the past two years. He is followed by FC Lorient youth Romain Gall at No. 2, future Borussia Dortmund player Junior Flores at No. 3, and Fulham youth Emerson Hyndman at No. 4. All four took part in the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team’s trip to Italy in November. Finally, at No. 5 is Chivas USA Homegrown signee Caleb Calvert, who, along with Rubin and Flores, was named one of club soccer’s 14 players to watch in ’14 by TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Two players landing significantly higher in the IMG Academy 150 with this final update are Shattuck St. Mary’s midfielder Ricardo Lopez-Espin and Colorado Rush’s Miguel Jaime. Lopez-Espin, a Creighton commit, is having a breakout year in the Development Academy, leads his team in goals with 10 at the season’s midpoint, and rises from No. 102 to No. 25 in our standings. U.S. Soccer has taken notice as well, calling him into January’s U20 Men’s National Team camp. Jaime has opted for the high school route instead of academy, and is well-regarded by Colorado Rush Director of Coaching Sean Bushey. He will play his college soccer at Florida Gulf Coast(m) and moves up the rankings to No. 86.
Several players new to the IMG Academy 150 are Sigma FC midfielder Richmond Laryea at No. 99, Bethesda-Olney defender Carter Manley at No. 106, and FC Bolts Celtic midfielder Alex Ainscough at No. 125. Laryea is a very highly regarded player from Canada who has already enrolled at Akron for the spring semester; Manley is headed to Duke, and Ainscough will play for Jeremy Gunn at Stanford in the fall.
In addition to the IMG Academy 150 update, we have made key changes to the regional rankings which will be unveiled throughout the week. Some of the additions include Baltimore Bays goalkeeper and Providence(m) commit Colin Miller, Virginia Rush defender Gabe Tucker, and Chicago Fire Juniors of Louisiana goalkeeper Colin Hanley. Keep checking back to see who else made the lists.
As far as how we arrive at the rankings, it’s no simple task.
We keep an international database of players as the starting point for our rankings (if you’re not in it, enter a profile here).
We track an extensive list of selections to national team camps and other honors including USSF Development Academy (Boys), ECNL (Girls), and U.S. Youth Soccer National League event and season awards, plus U.S. Soccer Training Centers, ODP, id2 and other player identification programs.
From there we look at additional signs of top player performance in a club environment, with the help of an extensive network of observers around the country. The priority here is for club, college, national team and other select team coaches on the ground, but especially when we can gain corroborating opinions. The more layers of opinions we can gain accumulate the better, as our role is primarily to aggregate those viewpoints, rather than making our own determination as to a player’s quality.
As a matter of policy, we never share which coaches said what about whom so that coaches will be freer to share their assessments. Another policy is that parents’ opinions about their own children are not considered, but you are welcome to provide feedback about honors and other details that may be of help to us in keeping their profiles up to date as well as our challenge of sifting through thousands of players nationwide. That kind of data can be helpful, but the: “How can you not have rated my kid? He is awesome” communique, while compelling, will be consigned to the virtual trash.
In the end, there’s always some level of subjectivity about players, because after all, how good someone is relative to someone else is largely a matter of opinion, but we do our best to make our rankings as educated an opinion as can be.
The rankings will be updated every quarter. Keeping current rankings for 8 classes of 150 players each is no small task, and it is counterintuitive to think the rankings would change daily or weekly. We will announce each update.