The 2016 Boys IMG Academy Top 150 player rankings winter update is out today. Christian Pulisic rises to No. 2 as he continues to perform well for the U17 Men’s National Team on the international stage. The PA Classics midfielder contributed two goals in the team’s Aegean Cup Championship run earlier this month. Though Christian is not the only Pulisic who performed well at the Aegean Cup. Richmond Strikers goalkeeper Will Pulisic, Christian's cousin, earned the Golden Glove award at the event and climbs from No. 54 to No. 38 in our rankings.
Other players that have impressed our scouts as well as national team staff in recent months include Chicago Magic forward/defender Kendall Stork, St. Louis Scott Gallagher defender Alex “AJ” Palazzolo, PDA midfielder James Murphy, Oakwood SC midfielder Daniel Griffin, and Vardar SC center back Michael Wetungu. Stork scored 14 goals for Chicago Magic’s U16 Development Academy squad during the fall, earning him a spot on a select team roster for the Development Academy Showcase in December, followed by a U18 MNT callup in January. His impressive stats land him at No. 39 in the IMG Academy 150. Palazzolo is spending the spring as part of the U17 MNT Residency program and climbs from No. 119 to No. 56; Murphy, who debuts at No. 67, was named a NSCAA All-American as just a sophomore at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, and will play for PDA’s U16 Development Academy in the spring; Griffin, at No. 73, earned a spot on a select team at the Showcase, and has garnered interest from top college soccer programs; and Wetungu, who debuts at No. 122, spent his time at the showcase playing with the U17 MNT against U18 Development Academy sides.
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 FC Wisconsin forward Michael Carreon, Minnesota Thunder defender Kamran Kelly, MatchFit Chelsea midfielder/defender Cameron Allen, Colorado Rush center back Wiliam Eslinger, and Pateadores midfielder Daniel Klemm.
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.