Our system is completely objective and based on results against opponents in any game, tournament or league. We do not award quantity of games as it is not a valid factor in ranking. In order to make the system work, it must be seeded. At the older ages, we are able to use the USYS and US CLUB National Championship series to define the top teams. Then teams are rated by their play against them and then by games against teams that played teams that played them, etc.
The National Championship series is not an option for the younger ages so we must use the top brackets at some regionally competitive events to seed the rankings. A few of the events that are currently being used are the Jefferson Cup, WAGS and the Atlanta Cup. A younger team doesn't need to play in one of those events to receive a top rating, but it must play one of the teams that did or a team that played one of those teams. As there isn't as much travel at the younger ages, it takes longer for the rankings to spread across all teams.
The ranking system is fluid and interdependent. If a team is ranked too low, it will bring down the rankings of its opponents. Therefore, teams can not be ranked arbitrarily.
We also don't count games against other ages since they are outside the "pool" of teams being ranked. Here is a good analogy:
Think of it as lining the third graders up by height. If Billy is taller than Jimmy but shorter that Tommy we put him in between them in line. If I told you that George was taller than Albert in the fourth grade… Would that help you decide where to put George in the third grade line?
Lets take a team that is playing all of its games up an age. That is like Albert, a 3rd grader that was double promoted to the fourth grade. If I tell you that Albert is ranked fourth in height in the fourth grade would that tell you where to put him in the 3rd grade line? It would make more sense to rank that team among the older teams and then bring them back down when they move back to their own age group (for State Cup, for instance).
Sometimes you might see a team whose best game was a win over the 30th ranked team and yet they are ranked #4. You will probably see that they won by 3 or more goals and they have no losses against higher ranked teams. That's like saying the Billy is MUCH taller than Jimmy, but having no additional information. It is difficult to know just where to place them until we have more information. The system make the best mathematical decision it can but there is no "right" answer. Placing them too low would also be unfair to every other team they have played since it would negatively affect them without any valid reason to do so.
Generally, the system works those out since any other teams that defeated teams that might be ranked too high are anxious to enter those game to get the "bump" that game will give them.
We have over 350,000 games in the system, but the answer is still....MORE DATA.