It’s just a few weeks before group play begins in the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup, and the fall update for boys in the 2016 graduating class is out in anticipation of the event. Christian Pulisic remains the top player in this class, followed by Fulham’s Luca de la Torre at No. 2 and New York Cosmos forward Haji Wright at No. 3.
Players moving up the ranks include Seattle Sounders forward Nicholas Hinds, FC Dallas outside back Reggie Cannon, and Real Salt Lake AZ midfielder Danilo Acosta. Hinds and Cannon both made transitions to MLS clubs over the summer, with Hinds going cross country to join the Sounders from his native Florida, while Cannon moved just across town from Solar to FC Dallas. North Carolina commit Hinds is a member of the U20 Men’s National Team, and UCLA pledge Cannon is quickly becoming one of the top rated outside backs with the U17 MNT. RSL’s Acosta got a boost in his ranking based on his play throughout the Development Academy regular season, earning a spot on the West Conference Best XI, and in the postseason, where he received a best xi nod from TopDrawerSoccer.
Among those to make their first appearance in the IMG Academy 150 are Philadelphia Union defender Auston Trusty, Dallas Texans defender Matthew Constant, Bethesda-Olney forward David Mason, and Weston FC defender David Longo. Trusty finished the 2014-15 D.A. season with four goals from his center back position. He has spent the last several months impressing the U17 MNT staff and plans to head to North Carolina at the end of his senior season.
Constant played in the Academy Select Game last December, and performed well enough to earn a spot on the U17 Residency roster for the spring of 2015. Mason is a state high school all-star from Maryland who has joined Bethesda-Olney’s Development Academy program for the 2015-16 season, and Longo is touted as one of the best 1v1 defenders in the league.
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 Internationals midfielder and Akron verbal commitment Jackson Crawford, Orlando City defender Jonathan Rosales, Montreal Impact midfielder Luca Ricci, Portland Timbers goalkeeper Zachary Nelson, 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.