As a new cycle for the U.S. U20 Women’s National Team begins in anticipation of the 2016 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, the IMG Academy Top 150 rankings for the Class of 2015 has received a once over, resulting in changes to the rankings. The top two, respectively, remain Katherine Cousins and Taylor Racioppi, and both are part of the U20 WNT’s new cycle. Two players making their debut in the top 10 with this update, also part of the new cycle, are Gretna FC midfielder Michelle Xiao, up ten spots to No. 8, and Braddock Road YC defender Kaleigh Riehl, at No. 9.
West Coast FC forward Leah Pruitt, a San Diego State recruit who received several looks by US National Team staff at the U17 level, attended October’s U20 camp and climbs from No. 31 to No. 27. Pruitt has only played four matches for Gus Castaneda’s U18s, but already has two goals combined with two assists. Dallas Sting midfielder Julie James, a Kentucky recruit, also received the call up with the U20s, and combined with the recommendations received by our staff, climbs from No. 61 to No. 39. Another player on the U20 WNT roster worth mentioning is KC Dynamo defender/midfielder Parker Roberts, who debuts at No. 55. Roberts was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Kansas for 2014, an NSCAA All-American as a junior, and was named to the Best XI at the 2014 USYS National Championships.
Several players are having an outstanding senior season in their respective leagues, and are improving their ranking (and their team’s) as a result. D’Feeters forward Lauren Bruffett, who debuts at No. 86, was one of the top points-getters in the ECNL last season with 19 goals and 15 assists. The Mississippi State commit leads her team again this season with three goals and three assists, helping the Texas squad to a spot in the Grande Sports Academy TeamRank Top 25. Colorado Rush left back Madeline Flom (Max), who climbs from No. 112 to No. 88, has been an important ingredient in her team’s undefeated season, especially with top players Betsy Brandon and Jordan DiBiasi out with injuries for much of the fall. Flom has three goals and an assist for the Rush, and is part of a backline that has allowed just one goal in five matches. Boca United defender MacKenzie Marsh, who is a member of the Jamaican U20 Women’s National Team, has been having a great senior year in the Florida NPL before heading to Yale to play for Coach Todd Plourde, and debuts at No. 114.
Not only has the IMG Academy 150 received scrutiny, but the regional lists have been updated as well. Keep checking back this week as we unveil newcomers such as Indiana Fire Juniors’ Karsen Rauch, San Diego Surf defender Emma Clark, and many more.
As far as how we arrive at the rankings, it’s no simple task.
We keep a national 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.
So that’s it. You can see the newest version of the rankings here.