The spring update is out, and changes dot the rankings in the IMG Academy Top 150 for boys in the 2017 graduating class. Two players, Eric Lopez and Carson Vom Steeg, enter the top five for the first time. Lopez, of LA Galaxy II, has consistently performed for the U18 Men’s National Team and climbs to No. 4. Vom Steeg, verbally committed to Jeremy Gunn at Stanford, has been named captain of the U18 MNT and is garnering interest abroad as well, which helps his rise to No. 5.
Significant moves scattered throughout the rest of the rankings include midfielders Andrew Paoli, Stirling Russell, and Witt Conger, as well as forward Griff Dorsey. Paoli, a UCLA recruit, when not helping his San Jose Earthquake U16 squad to a spot in the postseason, has spent significant time with the U18 MNT. Russell, who has given a verbal commitment to Washington, attended January’s U18 MNT camp, and is a significant contributor to the Sounder’s U16 scoresheet with seven goals on the season. New to the Railhawks Development Academy this season, Conger has quickly become a super-sub for the Raleigh side’s U18s, scoring eight goals in just 11 starts. And Dorsey, also a member of the U18 MNT, has spent significant time with the Colorado Rush U18s as a 1999 birth year, and is verbally committed to Indiana.
New to the rankings with the update are players who are either tearing up the scoresheet for their club side, or successfully keeping that sheet clean. Vancouver Whitecaps forward Alan Camacho Soto is the leading scorer in the Development Academy U16 age group, with 29 goals in 31 matches, leading his team to one of the top seeds in the upcoming playoffs. Blanco earned recognition last year as one of the top players for Arlington SA at the USYS Region I playoffs, and has continued that success while transitioning to DC United’s Development Academy, scoring 10 goals and earning a starting spot in the midfield for playoff-bound DCU’s U16s. Mazzola has been a starting goalkeeper for Everton FC Westchester for eight years running, and is being recruited by a number of top schools. Rojas has helped his Oakwood U16s to the top spot in the Northeast Division, and can play either center back or right back positions.
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 the Albertson center back duo of Coby McGregor and Orlando Zambrano, Everton FC Westchester midfielder Kristian Shkreli, Charlotte SA defender Taylor Suber, Texans SC Houston goalkeeper Andrew Morrison, 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.