There are several great websites that provide youth soccer rankings. These are the best:
- Youth Soccer Rankings USA – Best for Team Rankings (Update as of 9/17/2022 — this site has been shut down, BUT the developer now has apps for both iOS – and Android. The apps do not give you the full interface and have some features behind a paywall, but they do provide rankings at the free level.)
- GotSoccer – Tool to Evaluate Tournament Strength
- Soccer In College – Good for Tournament Evaluation
- TopDrawerSoccer – Rankings Emphasize League Games
- SoccerWire – Best for Entire Club Rankings
Value of Youth Soccer Rankings
Winning should never be the primary goal in youth soccer. The primary goal should be development (see What’s Wrong With Winning). That said, youth soccer rankings have some value.
First, rankings are a fun way for players (and parents) to see how they would measure up against top teams that they may not be able to play due to geographic constraints.
Second, rankings can help to establish expectations when teams have an opportunity to play elite teams they may not have played before.
Third, rankings can help teams choose appropriate tournaments with similarly ranked teams.
Finally, rankings may provide guidance when selecting a club. We evaluate and demystify the rankings systems below.
The Best for Individual Team Rankings – Youth Soccer Rankings USA
The best of these options is Youth Soccer Rankings USA. This system ranks 260,000 youth soccer teams based upon the results of some 2.7 million games. Youth Soccer Rankings USA receives the results for their system directly from hundreds of league websites and tournaments. Then, each team is assigned a number based on a formula which includes every goal of every game measured. The teams with the higher numbers have the higher rankings. Further, when comparing two teams, the difference in the ranking of each team is the anticipated goal difference for a head to head match-up. (Update as of 9/17/2022 — this site has been shut down, BUT the developer now has apps for both iOS – and Android. The apps do not give you the full interface and have some features behind a paywall, but they do provide rankings at the free level.)
For example, if the higher ranked team (Team A) in a particular division has a score of 44.28 and the lower ranked team (Team B) in the same division has a score of 42.28, then Team A would be expected to win a head to head match-up by 2 goals (44.28 – 42.28 = 2). If the actual result of a game between Team A and Team B is something other than a 2 goal difference, then each team’s rankings score is adjusted based on the field performance.
The Youth Soccer Rankings USA system starts at the U10 level and has several options at the specific age groups for narrowing the results. You can divide the results between girls teams and boys teams (although they claim that the predictive power of the ranking system works across the genders). You can look at the national rankings, regional rankings or even state rankings. Lastly, you can also simply look up specific team names.
The website itself is very user friendly and site navigation is intuitive. Youth Soccer Rankings USA inputs team results on a daily basis, so the rankings remain current.
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A Valuable Tool to Evaluate Tournament Strength – GotSoccer
GotSoccer is a reasonable alternative to Youth Soccer Rankings USA, but it has its limitations. The biggest limitation for the GotSoccer system is game coverage. GotSoccer’s rankings are based solely on tournament performances. But, not every tournament counts. For a tournament to count, it must have been submitted to the GotSoccer system. Then, the tournament is ranked and assigned a certain number of points. Finally, a team’s performance in the tournament is allocated a portion of the points assigned to the tournament. Teams with more points are ranked higher.
For example, a high level tournament may be assigned 1500 points while a low level tournament may be assigned 500 points. The winner of the high level tournament might be allocated 750 points (with the remainder of the points being allocated to the lower placing teams), while the winner of the lower level tournament might only receive 250 points.
GotSoccer is useful for distinguishing between tournament levels, but is not a great way to determine actual team rankings since league games and some tournament games will not be considered. Unfortunately, the rankings are further skewed by a tournament’s cooperation with GotSoccer. As previously indicated, only tournaments submitted to the GotSoccer system will count toward their rankings. But, GotSoccer takes it a step further in that certain tournaments called “GotSoccer Scheduled” tournaments are given a higher allocation of points and bonus points. In other words, tournaments that benefit GotSoccer are given preference. Not exactly unbiased.
The GotSoccer rankings system starts at the U11 age group and is divided by gender. You can also narrow the results by region and state. GotSoccer includes Canada, as well.
The website itself is fairly easy to use and navigate. Updates tend to lag a bit depending on when the tournaments report their results.
Another Tool for Tournament Evaluation – Soccer In College
Soccer In College is similar to GotSoccer in that it only considers tournament results in its rankings. It is a step below GotSoccer, however, because the number of tournaments considered is even more limited. As a result, the game coverage is a fraction of the games covered by Youth Soccer Rankings USA and GotSoccer.
Soccer In College starts its rankings system earlier than both Youth Soccer Rankings USA and GotSoccer at the U8 age level. Again, results can be divided by gender, region and state. While Soccer in College covers US Soccer, it also appears to cover Canada, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Mexico. However, I did not find any results for those countries in my trial searches.
Like Youth Soccer Rankings USA and GotSoccer, the website is easy to navigate with intuitive dropdown menus. Soccer In College indicates that results are updated on a weekly basis.
Emphasis on League Games – TopDrawerSoccer
Top Drawer Soccer takes an opposite approach to GotSoccer and Soccer In College in that TopDrawerSoccer values league play and “championship” games over tournament games. Boys and Girls rankings are divided by age group (starting at the U13 age group) and only the top 25 teams in the nation are presented. There are no state rankings. TopDrawerSoccer updates its rankings monthly.
Evaluating a Club – SoccerWire
SoccerWire takes yet another approach in that it ranks youth soccer clubs as a whole. Results of the top clubs at each age level (u13 – u19) are considered along with call-ups to youth national teams, number of pro players produced and performance at the highest national level events. SoccerWire applies a formula and produces a list of the top 100 youth soccer clubs for each gender. SoccerWire updates rankings monthly.
The SoccerWire website is pretty basic and easy to navigate.
Rankings as a Tool
Youth soccer rankings are a fun and useful tool. Each ranking system has its strengths and weaknesses. The Youth Soccer Rankings USA website is the most comprehensive system for ranking individual teams. The GotSoccer and Soccer In College websites are useful for evaluating tournament strength. SoccerWire is great for looking at a youth soccer club as a whole. These websites are valuable, but use them with caution, and resist the temptation to value results over development.