2018 Boys Top 150 Player Rankings

by Caroline Yort
June 8, 2014
2018 Boys Top 150 Player Rankings


The 2018 Boys IMG Academy Top 150 club player rankings debut today. The top ten span the four corners of the country, with the top two already plying their trade internationally. Originally from southern California, FC Barcelona midfielder Ben Lederman is the consensus No. 1, with Boca Juniors forward Ryan Palmbaum in the second spot. Lederman has been living in Spain and playing for the Spanish club for the past three years, and since 2012 has been a regular participant with the U.S.’s youth national teams at the U14 and U15 levels when they travel to Europe. Like Lederman, Palmbaum moved out of the country several years ago, but instead headed south to Argentina, where he now plays for the prestigious Boca Juniors Academy.

There are two goalkeepers in this initial top ten list, PDA’s Hunter Pinho and Sockers FC’s Alexander Budnik, as well as two defenders: outside backs Zico Bailey and Gabe Kash. Pinho at No. 6 and Budnik at No. 10 have both impressed at the international level as part of the U14 Boys National Team, and both travelled with US Club Soccer’s id2 program to Italy in March of this year. Kash at No. 3, a member of the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Illinois U14 and U16 Development Academy teams, suffered an injury last fall that hindered his participation in youth national team camps, but made up for lost time when he debuted with the U15 BNT in March, impressing head coach Hugo Perez enough to be invited to Italy in April. Bailey, at No. 9, recently moved from Heat FC in Las Vegas to become a part of LA Galaxy’s Development Academy.

Rounding out the top 10 are midfielders No. 4 George Acosta (Weston FC), No. 5 Christopher Goslin (Georgia United), No. 8 Jean-Julien Foe Nuphaus (San Jose Earthquakes), and forward No. 9 Timothy Weah (New York Red Bulls).

In addition to the IMG Academy 150 update, we will unveil the regional rankings throughout the week. Some of the players on our initial list include Dallas Texans forward Marcos Puga, Manhattan SC defender Tyler Ripley, Carolina Rapids midfielder Noah Dunn, Tampa Bay United midfielder Austin Amer, and many, many more. Keep checking back throughout the week 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 first version of the rankings here.