The winter update for boys in the 2016 graduating class is out today, and Christian Pulisic remains the No. 1 player in the IMG Academy Top 150. The Pennsylvanian scored a brace in the U17 MNT’s win against England at the Nike Friendlies in December and continues to be the clear leader for this group. Luca de la Torre is thriving at Fulham, climbing to No. 3, while Alexis Velela is performing well as part of the U17 Residency program, and rises into the top ten at No. 10.
Several players making significant moves up the ranks this quarter include PDA midfielder James Murphy, CSA Wolves forward Giuseppe Barone, and Solar Chelsea forward Dwight Williams. Murphy starts for PDA’s U18 Development Academy squad, ranked No. 7 in the Grande Sports Academy TeamRank Top 25, and is now a regular with the U.S. U18 Men’s National Team, recently travelling to Spain and Mexico. His performance has garnered interest from many top college programs, helping raise his ranking to No. 31. In recent months, Wolves’ Barone earned an invitation to the Select Game at the Development Academy showcase, recorded two assists in the scrimmage, then received an invitation to join the U17 Residency Program for the spring semester. He has verbally committed to Michigan State and raises his ranking to No. 49. Williams has started every game for the Solar Chelsea U16s, scoring 11 goals to lead the team. While at the Disney Showcase over the New Year’s holiday, the recent verbal to SMU earned a Best XI nod from TopDrawerSoccer.com, and raises his ranking to No. 65.
Among those to make their first appearance in the IMG Academy 150 are San Juan SC defender David Burns, Sporting Iowa forward Elvir Ibisevic, and Seattle Sounders midfielder Harrison Kurtz. Last month, Burns earned his first call up for the USA at any age group, and started every match for the U18 MNT at the Copa Chivas tournament in Guadalajara, entering our rankings all the way at No. 50. Ibisevic is a product of Sporting Kansas City affiliate Sporting Iowa, and was discovered by youth national team staff at the 2014 ODP Interregionals in December. His performance earned him an invitation to Residency for this spring as well as a No. 69 ranking. Kurtz is a standout midfielder and regular starter with the Sounders U18s, earning a spot at No. 113 with this update.
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 Chicago Magic PSG forward Albert Arabik, Bethesda Olney center back Griffin Bouchard, Baltimore Celtic defender Andrew Hopkins, New York Red Bulls midfielder Jared Gilbey, 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 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.