NCAA signing day is almost here for fall sports, and that means it’s time for the final rankings for the Class of 2016.
Christian Pulisic finishes his youth career on top of the rankings, while his career with Borussia Dortmund’s first team is just beginning. Pulisic was promoted to Dortmund’s first team roster on January 4, and he doesn’t even turn 18 until September. Another professional level talent, Danilo Acosta, chose to forego his commitment to UCLA, signing with RSL just after the Development Academy showcase, and climbs significantly in our final update.
Of players entering the college ranks in the fall, there are quite a few making their mark in their final youth seasons.
Akron recruits and Sigma FC club mates Reggie Laryea and Marcel Zajac enter the rankings for the first time in this final update, along with Georgia United defender Diego Manrique and Continental FC Delco forward Leon Maric, among others. Laryea attended the most recent camp for the Canada Men’s U20 national team and will follow in his brother’s footsteps when he joins the Zips in the fall. Maric is a Virginia recruit with 12 goals at the midway point of his final season in the Development Academy for FC Delco.
Several players making moves up the ranks include Dallas Texans defender Matthew Constant, Portland Timbers defensive midfielder Terrell Lowe, Colorado Rush midfielder Noah Bushey, and Orlando City forward Nathaniel Adamolekun. Constant, a New Mexico recruit, has been playing on the Texans U18 Development Academy for a couple of years now, and is a former member of the U17 Residency program. Lowe, another Virginia recruit, spent last summer playing with the Timbers USL side, and was chosen by TopDrawerSoccer.com as one of Sunday’s best at the DA showcase in December. Bushey, who will head to New Mexico with Constant, was named to the overall Best XI squad at December’s showcase, and North Carolina recruit Adamolekun has 12 goals in 15 matches so far during his senior season.
In addition to the IMG Academy 150 update, we have made key final tweaks to the regional rankings which will be unveiled throughout the week. Some of the additions include IMG Academy midfielder and West Virginia recruit Michael Cormack, Shattuck St. Mary’s forward and Dayton commit Churchill Onumonu, Continental FC Delco left back and West Chester University(m) recruit Mark Palage, 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 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 at least three times per year. 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.