Twelve years ago, Mark Lewis was just an average soccer dad, encouraging his daughters from the sidelines during her youth soccer career in Colorado. With tournaments taking them out of state, Mark quickly grew frustrated by the lack of competitively bracketed flights for teams traveling for games. But instead of letting that get him down, he used it as inspiration to build his own tool that would pull nationwide results and compare and rank teams. And so www.youthsoccerankings.us was born. Over the following years, the website gained a cult following among youth soccer stakeholders throughout the country and eventually caught the attention of Sports Illustrated. After they purchased the site and later sold it to SportsEngineNBC, Mark was contracted to keep operating the sight – unfortunately once the contract ended, the site was shut down.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mark to uncover the incredible story behind the dismantling of www.youthsoccerrankings.us and his revolutionary app, Soccer Rankings, which is now available for Apple and Android users! It was an enlightening experience getting to learn more about what inspired him to create this amazing program.
Having experienced it ourselves, we understand what it's like to attend a tournament with your child's youth soccer team and be unpleasantly surprised by the competition. Mark knew this all too well: "It's hard to have a great time when the playing field is so uneven," he mused. Before Mark developed his solution, tournament flights were typically based on information provided by applying teams and GotSoccer's point-based system — both of which weren't particularly reliable or able to predict head-to-head outcomes with any sort of precision.
Mark's www.youthsoccerrankings.us website grew to become the go-to tool for both tournament directors determining flights and also coaches trying to prepare for upcoming competitions. The tool not only provided ranking but also a global rating number that could be used to compare teams across age groups. When it became unavailable the entire youth soccer community was outraged. Parents were possibly the most disappointed having relied on the website for comparing clubs within their own communities and also researching and discussing rankings and potential outcomes. Without www.youthsoccerrankings.us, what would soccer dads talk about over breakfast in the hotel lobby?
When SportsEngineNBC took the ranking offline, all of Mark's hard work and resources were gone. Fortunately for everyone, he dedicated the entire summer to construct a new ranking tool, building it from scratch and making it even more user-friendly. “I believe the new ranking system is better than ever before, and more precise," Mark expressed with enthusiasm.
The result was Soccer Rankings a new app for Apple and Android, by USA Sports Statistics LLC. This easy to use mobile app offers an amazing resource for youth soccer enthusiasts! With its incredible crawling ability, the app pulls results from over 400 websites that feature leagues, tournaments, showcases, and more. It's easy-to-use and comes jam-packed with awesome features like head-to-head predictions, the option to favorite your team, offensive and defensive rankings, and a club ranking system.
Mark has revealed that there is so much more to come from this program, introducing features such as individual player stats and video integration. The app will include a real-time tool to track individual player stats which would only be visible to that parent, not a public feature but an individual tool - unless the parent chooses to share with coaches and recruiters. With enough collected stats and data, coaches may even be able to receive an analysis of their behavior—including substitution tendencies and more!
Quirks within the App
Soccer Rankings is a great App and well worth the $9.99/year for all features (you get your first month free, so 13 months). There are just a couple of quirky things we found, for example teams that don’t have enough recent games against ranked teams or haven't played in 6 months are on an unranked list. If the results came from a different website then you may have to merge them in the app to make your team ranked. To bypass not having your team in the app I suggest finding a team that you have tied or who you were evenly matched within one goal and use their ranking and results to use the “Predict Results” feature until your team is ranked.
A feature we would like to see in the future (suggested to me by a fellow soccer parent) is a “Common Opponents” feature. It would be convenient to be able to run a report of common opponents to view side by side results.