The 2018 boys IMG Academy Top 150 rankings update, and not surprising for this young group, there has been a shuffle at the top. With US Soccer staff and scouts, as well as several from our staff, handing out glowing recommendations (in addition to his speak-for-itself performance on the field), Georgia product Andrew Carleton becomes the new No. 1. He bagged six goals for his United FA U14 side during the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships, including two in their 4-0 final, garnering a best xi nod and a note as an “obvious standout” at the event. He followed that display with a place in the starting lineup for the U.S. U15 Boys National Team in his first appearance with the group, backing that up with another jaw-dropping performance.
Standouts from August’s U14 BNT camp also raised their ranking with this update. Charlotte Soccer Academy’s Jaylin Lindsey is establishing himself as the best right-sided center back in his age group, and climbs from No. 12 to No. 6, while fellow starting center back Rayshaun McGann, from Boca United, climbs from No. 31 to No. 19.
Recommendations poured in for players to be added to the rankings this quarter, and they dot the IMG Academy 150. LA Galaxy forward Kevin Negrete performed well in his first camp with the U14 BNT, and debuts at No. 30. Negrete is a product of LA Galaxy Academy’s feeder system, having played his club soccer with LA Galaxy South Bay. Dallas Texans midfielder Paxton Pomykal, at No. 79, scored 10 goals for his U14 Development Academy side last season, and has been invited to train at multiple European clubs. Formerly a member of the Chargers SC U14 Development Academy, midfielder Aristotle Zarris (at No. 120), was selected by Real Salt Lake AZ to participate in the Generation adidas ESP Showcase at the beginning of August. Zarris is rostered on RSL’s U16 squad this fall.
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 Braddock Road Youth Club forward Alex Shahmirzadi, Soccer Association of Columbia goalkeeper Mason Abrams, Minnesota Thunder defender Juan Escoto, Lonestar center back Jose Luis Rodriguez Cruz 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 newest version of the rankings here.