Gotsoccer.com has essentially monopolized the market in youth travel soccer rankings to the extent that leagues (such as EDP) and tournaments (such as everyone) form their flights using the system. Teams are often forced to even sign up for their leagues and tournaments through gotsoccer and clubs must affiliate or risk a loss in registrations due to the fact that teams won’t receive “points” for competing. Our local club tournament Sunburst went this way in 2014 after seeing a dip in registrations and citing this exact reason. Leagues such as JAGS, which used to be the premier girls soccer league in NJ was superseded by EDP because of their initial affiliation with gotsoccer, offering points for every game you play. JAGS has since conformed to this, but only because if they did not they risked extinction. Raising the question: How did we allow gotsoccer to gain so much power?
I’ll be the first to admit, there are currently very few sustainable competitors out there and I imagine getting a foot in the door is near impossible at this point. That would take a lot of relationship building and breaking, as well as a substantial presentation to directors of clubs, leagues, and tournaments across the country to pull off.
- Youthsoccerranking.us is one site that seems professional and has some legs. I like that they actually try to explain to you how their rankings are created and uses gotsoccer in its own way to form the self proclaimed “most accurate rankings anywhere…”
- There is topdrawersoccer.com that might be the busiest (as in too much going on) web site of all time and pale orange color just turns me off. They focus on top 25’s in the nation, which to me is just kind of useless.
- soccerwire.com shows some promise, but just a national top 100 from U14 and up. Again a national ranking to me is near impossible if teams rarely play outside their region.
There are a host of other wannabees, but no one with real traction to compete with the gotsoccer phenomenon. Although my problem isn’t so much with gotsoccer running the show itself, it is more the way they go about doing it.
The rankings to start are borderline ridiculous. Teams can gain thousands of points from a single tournament victory catapulting them to the top of the standings. Ever heard of a good weekend? Or a US Club carded team filled with academy players playing with their “B-Team?” I recognize its hard to account for all of this, but when you have grown to gotsoccer size and strength I also assume you can handle these faults and evolve to match the competitive environment you have created.
Secondly they are destroying individual player development. John O’Sullivan of Soccer American wrote a great article in 2013 (Link Here) describing the travesty that is ranking 9 and 10 year old players. As a coach, heavily involved in these age groups, it has created a madness around tournaments and big league games where trainers and coaches are forced to go for the win over player development. Parents in turn become ultra-critical if you “allow weaker players” game time when your true goal is to make sure every player is given a chance to progress. Hey, there are games where I would love to just play my strongest 8 or 11, but it is not realistic when there are 13-18 players rostered all dedicating the same time and financial commitment as the rest.
Gotsoccer has the right to rule as the go-to rankings board for youth soccer, because in our community there is a need for it and in our society there is a demand for it which they earned by being first. What I wish is that gotsoccer would take a fresh look at their platform and evolve to growing needs of the community without disrupting the integrity of what we (coaches, trainers, DOCs, and parents) are trying to do. Help us promote player development and take away emphasis on the win. After all it is for the kids and the future of NJ and U.S. Soccer collectively, not what one team or club can accomplish.