The IMG Academy 150 fall update for girls in the 2017 graduating class is out today, and this age group has been busy since the last time we checked in. So Cal Blues forward Ashley Sanchez continues her reign as the top player in this age group, having scored the game winner for the U.S. U20 Women’s National Team to secure the CONCACAF championship in December. She is currently in the midst of the NTC Invitational with the U17 WNT, and has been named to the U17 roster for the CONCACAF championship at this younger age group in March. Also on that U20 WNT roster in December was FC Virginia forward Emily Fox, who was a starter in the final along with Sanchez.
Others climbing the ranks with this update include So Cal Blues defender Karina Rodriguez, Minnesota Thunder midfielder/forward Adrienne Richardson, Michigan Hawks midfielder Madison Wolfbauer, Colorado Rush defender Brynn Martin, and SC Del Sol forward Olivia Jones. Rodriguez has been a constant in this cycle for the U17 WNT and scored a goal against Korea at the NTC Invitational on a set piece from her center back position. Richardson, an LSU recruit, is tearing up the scoresheet for Thunder’s Midwest Conference leading U17 ECNL team this season, with 14 goals and eight assists in just 11 matches. Another forward with some impressive stats is Wolfbauer, who has 11 goals in 14 matches and was picked by TopDrawerSoccer as a youth national team player to watch. Martin is a constant leader for Rush’s U17 ECNL squad and earned an invitation to December’s U18 WNT camp. Finally, Jones, an Arizona State recruit, along with No. 37 Kelsey Turnbow, has led her team to a 10-1-1 record and a second place standing in the brutal Southwest Conference at the high school break.
More than a few players have been added to the rankings this winter, including De Anza Force defender Emily Smith, Continental FC Delco midfielder Alyssa Poarch, and Dallas Texans forward Rheagan Smith. De Anza has only conceded four goals in conference action, and Smith is one of the main reasons why. U17 WNT head coach B.J. Snow took notice, including her in the last three camps and naming her to the CONCACAF U17 Championship roster. Poarch was named to the U17 WNT roster for December’s camp, and the speedy forward also made it onto the TDS Best XI list for the ECNL Sanford Showcase. Texans’ Smith was also tops at the Sanford Showcase, and attended a U18 WNT camp in October.
Not only has the IMG Top 150 received scrutiny, but the regional lists have been updated as well. Keep checking back over the next couple of weeks as we unveil newcomers such as Solar midfielder Miah Alexia Zuazua, Minnesota Thunder defender and Minnesota recruit McKenzie Langdok, Washington Premier defender and Gonzaga recruit Jordan Thompson, Yardley Makefield Soccer midfielder Maddison Elwell and many, many more.
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 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.