One of the more potential-filled midfielders in the U.S. youth pipeline is coming to MLS.
The Portland Timbers have acquired U.S. Under-20 midfielder Charles Renken through the MLS waiver process, according to a team release, bringing the 18-year-old to the Pacific Northwest from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
As a member of the U.S. youth program since 2005, Renken has long carried promise, but knee injuries have disrupted his career. He was a participant in the joint U.S. U-23/U-20 camp held in Duisburg, Germany, in November, and he had been playing for Hoffenheim's U-19 team.
As for how Portland was able to acquire Renken, all other MLS teams passed on the chance to sign him, thus negating the need for the allocation or lottery process, sources told SBI. The past precedent for U.S. youth internationals coming to MLS from clubs abroad has been to put them through the allocation order.
So why did 18 teams pass on Renken?
It depends on the teams, but you had some teams that were scared off by his injury history, some teams that didn't want to give up their place in the MLS Allocation Order (which is determined by last year's record and determines who has first crack at U.S. national team players who return to MLS). There is also the fact that several teams already have stockpiles of young talent
Exceptions to that rule include players who have been previously offered Generation adidas deals only to turn them down and head overseas (like Lee Nguyen), who are then put in a weighted lottery. Other exceptions include players who have played in lower-tier leagues in America. While Renken falls into none of those categories, it seems that Portland was the only team willing to take a chance on the Zambia-born U.S. prospect.
What do you make of this development? Happy to see Renken come to MLS?
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