The 2017 Boys IMG Academy Top 150 debuts today, and FC Richmond midfielder Nicholas Taitague is #1. Taitague pulls the strings in midfield for the U.S. U14 Boys National Team, is dynamic on the ball, and has a great change of pace. He also participated in US Club Soccer’s id2 International Tour in March, where he caught the eye of more than a few international scouts. Joining Taitague at the top is the U14 BNT center back duo of Kyle Gruno (PDA) at #2 and Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls) at #3. The coupling of Adams’ athleticism with Gruno’s vertical abilities and distribution out of the back deems both of them near the top of the list. Rounding out the top five are DC United midfielder Jose Carranza at #4 and Alliance SC defender Edwin Lara at #5.
For this first list, recommendations poured in from all over the country, and the following are just a few more of the over 300 players that were recommended. Colorado Rush midfielder Ryan Crowley, at #32, is one of the few eighth graders who has earned a full-time position on the Rush U16 Development Academy team, starting nine of the 15 games in which he has played. BW Gottschee center midfielder Marcos Martinez, at #42, is the star of Gottschee’s U13 Pre-Academy team that has suffered just one loss this season in the Northeast Pre-Academy League. And Valley United midfielder/forward Noa Harrisson, a member of the U14 BNT and the US Youth Soccer Region IV teams, lands at #50.
In addition to the IMG Academy 150 update, we will unveil the first regional lists for the class of 2017 throughout this week. Some of the players who made these lists include Atletico Santa Rosa defender Filiberto Torres, Dallas Texans midfielder Paxton Pomykal, FC Boston Bolts midfielder Jack O’Brien, St. Louis Scott Gallagher defender Aedan Stanley, and United FC goalkeeper Matthew Reich. Keep checking back to see who else made the lists.
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.