The IMG Academy Top 150 fall update for boys in the 2017 graduating class is out today, and there is a new No. 1 for the first time since we started ranking this age group back in 2013. U17 MNT defender Tyler Adams, a member USL’s New York Red Bulls II, takes over the top spot after a spectacular summer in which he scored the go-ahead goal for the Red Bulls senior team in an exhibition match against Chelsea. One of just three members of the Class of 2017 chosen to represent the United States at the FIFA U17 World Cup later this month, Adams was already high on our list, jumping just one spot to reach the top.
Internationals left back John Nelson and LA Galaxy II goalkeeper Eric Lopez also made the U17 MNT World Cup roster. Nelson climbs to No. 3 after training with West Bromwich Albion during the summer.
Kendall SC defensive midfielder Gabriel Paniagua, Capital Area Railhawks-CASL forward/midfielder Alex Rose, Colorado Rush forward Griff Dorsey, and Charlotte SA goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg were just a few of the players to raise their ranking over the summer. Paniagua earned his first call up with the U16 BNT in June, and was named to the U18 MNT Nordic Cup roster the following month. Rose finished the 2014-15 Development Academy season with the fourth highest goal total (30), and recently gave his verbal commitment to coach Jeremy Gunn at Stanford. Dorsey has caught the eye of youth national team staff as well, attending the Nordic Cup with Paniagua. And Pannenberg recently signed an amateur contract with USL’s Charlotte Independence, in addition to spending a couple of weeks at the U17 Residency program this past spring.
As for players new to the rankings, Seattle Sounders center mid Kei Tomozawa, St. Louis Scott Gallagher defender Chase Niece, Penn Fusion defensive midfielder Maxwell Zandi, and IMG Academy attacking midfielder Faris Abdi all make their debut with this update. Tomozawa moved to the Sounders from Hawaii Slammers midway through the 2014-15 season, and garnered recognition as a starter at his new club. Niece starts on the SLSG U18 Development Academy squad and is being recruited by a slew of D1 programs; Zandi earned honorable mention from TDS at the USYS Region I Championships in June; and Abdi is poised to shine alongside IMG fellow midfielder Ben Lederman (No. 10 in the Class of 2018) and forward Hanif Wright, ranked No. 18.
Click here to see where these players as well as all the members of the IMG Academy 150 are ranked.
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 DC United forward Casimir Zekoua, Baltimore Armour central defensive mid Matt Flynn, Crossfire Premier goalkeeper Donald Motch, Capital Area Railhawks-CASL defender Vicente Gallardo, and many more. 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 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.