The 2017 Boys IMG Academy Top 150 summer update is out today. As we refine our list for this young age group, there are many changes to note, but the top three of Nicholas Taitague, Kyle Gruno, and Tyler Adams remain the same. Taitague and Adams, along with #4 Edwin Lara, travelled in August to the Copa Mexico de Naciones with the U.S. U15 Boys’ National Team and spoke with TopDrawerSoccer.com’s J.R. Eskilson about the experience.
The recent U14 BNT and U15 BNT camps have provided a platform for young players to show their worth to national team staff. Three players in particular stood out and are climbing the ranks of the IMG Academy 150. LA Galaxy goalkeeper Eric Lopez has established himself as the top goalkeeper in this age group and climbs from #21 to #13. Chicago Magic PSG defender Jose Alvaro debuts at #14 after making an impression in his first camp with fellow ‘99s. Internationals SC defender John Nelson makes an enormous jump from #73 to #20. Nelson, a 1998 birth year player, made his third appearance with the U.S. U15 BNT at the recent tournament in Mexico.
Magic’s Alvaro has lots of company on the debutante list, including FC Dallas goalkeeper David Abonce, Classics Elite midfielder Devin Vega, St. Louis Scott Gallagher Metro midfielder Wan Kamal Kuzain, and Revolution Empire center mid Nash Mahler. Abonce excelled at his first camp with the U14 BNT and Vega received a call-up to the U15 BNT camp in July, while Kuzain and Mahler are mainstays of their clubs’ USSF Academy programs. Click here to see where they all 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 Indiana Fire midfielder Ben Weber, MatchFit Academy winger Kevin Smolyn, Central California Aztecs’ Roberto Ramirez, 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 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.