The IMG Academy Top 150 rankings update for boys in the 2018 graduating class is out today, with forward Andrew Carleton retaining the top spot once again. Carleton scored the lone goal for the U18 Men’s National Team in a 2-1 loss to Sweden at the Nordic Cup in July, and has spent the remainder of the last few months with Georgia United’s U18 Development Academy. DC United midfielder Chris Durkin climbs into the top 10 after a standout summer with the U15 BNT. Durkin scored a goal in the U15’s 3-3 draw with England in August, and like Carleton, plays for his club’s U18 Development Academy.
St. Louis Scott Gallagher defender Aeden Stanley, Philadelphia Union forward Nykolas Sessock, Real So Cal forward Wilson Harris, and St. Louis Scott Gallagher Illinois defender/midfielder Jack Maher all had productive summers and have carried it over to the fall season, improving their rank in the process. Stanley is a left back that was named to the Development Academy Central Division Best XI for 2014-15, and has three youth national team camps under his belt since June. Sessock earned a trip to England with the U15 BNT and is a regular for the Union’s U16 Development Academy. Harris was named to the West Division Best XI at the end of the summer, and has attended two recent camps with the U16 BNT and U18 MNT. And Maher, a multiple TDS Combine alum and Best XI pick, earned a spot on the U18 MNT for its most recent camp.
A couple of new players worth highlighting are IMG Academy defender Ethan Sawdon, Sporting Kansas City forward Grayson Barber, and FC Dallas goalkeeper Carlos Mercado. Sawdon moved to IMG Academy this season from San Antonio Scorpions Youth Academy and has already earned high marks with his new club. Barber was the USYS National League leading scorer in 2015 when he played for South Carolina United. He was picked up by the SKC Academy this season where he earned a starting spot right away. Mercado garnered a roster spot for the U18 MNT camp in California this month, and his 16s have the fewest goals against in the Texas Conference.
In addition to the IMG Academy 150 update, we have made key changes to the regional rankings which will be unveiled throughout the week. On Friday we will highlight some of the regionally ranked players. Some of the additions include Philadelphia Union forward Issa Rayyan, DC United defender Alec Townsend, Fewster FC midfielder Brenden Hollingsworth, Seattle Sounders center mid Cameron Martin, San Diego Surf goalkeeper Jacob Jackson, and 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 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.