Atlanta United homegrown Andrew Carleton remains in the No. 1 spot in the IMG Academy 150 for the Class of 2018 boys, but there are a couple of moves within the top 10 with this update. Two forwards, Josh Sargent of St. Louis Scott Gallagher and Ayo Akinola of Toronto FC continue to shine with the U17 Men’s National Team as well as with their clubs. Both travelled to Panama with the U17 MNT at the end of September, with Sargent earning the captain’s armband in the first friendly, a 3-1 victory against the host country. Akinola had a successful summer with Toronto FC II, nabbing his first goals as a professional, and was the only player to score in each match in a tournament in Mexico with the U17 MNT. Both are on the fall U17 residency roster, and climb to Nos. 4 and 5, respectively.
Players making the biggest moves up the ranks include Atlanta United forward Zyen Jones, New England Revolution forward Isaac Angking, Real Colorado midfielder Matthew Hundley, and Weston SC defender Jake Walker. Jones, in his second semester of residency with the U17 MNT, was one of the positives from what was otherwise a disappointing tournament for the U17s in Mexico in August. Angking, also in his second semester of residency, scored both goals, a free kick and a penalty, to help the U17 MNT earn a draw with Chorillo FC in Panama last month. Hundley scored 10 goals for Real Colorado’s U15/16 Development Academy during the 2015-16 regular season, helping them to a spot in the playoffs where he added another. He joined the residency program in August, and attended his first camp with the U17s in St. Louis in October. Walker, a left center back for Weston’s U18 Development Academy, has helped his team to a 4-1-1 record so far this season, and was named the to the East Conference Best XI for the U15/16 age group over the summer.
New to the rankings this season include Sacramento Republic goalkeeper Cameron Douglas, Atlanta United midfielder Will Crain, Seattle Sounders defender Jake Morris, and Baltimore Celtic defender Jayson Cyrus. Douglas is one of the few in this age group that has already made a college commitment, giving his verbal to UCLA over a year ago. He is a member of the U18 MNT, having attended the last two camps over the summer, and was named to the Development Academy West Conference Best XI for the U17/18 age group in July. Crain has started every match he has played for the undefeated Atlanta United U16s, contributing to impressive team stats of 27 goals for, five goals against and two shutouts. Morris joined the Sounders Academy after an impressive season with Weston FC which earned him a spot on the Development Academy U15/16 East Conference Best XI. He then travelled to Serbia in September with the U19 MNT. Finally, the athletic Cyrus helped his Baltimore Celtic 98/99 to a semifinal run at the 2016 USYS National Championships, and is being recruited by a number of top D1 programs.
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 San Jose Earthquakes center back Kameron Bolden, Colorado Rush goalkeeper Luc Aubuisson, Carolina Rapids forward Matthew Perez, 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.