Connect with us

Leagues: MLS

Charles Renkin to Arsenal? Some Thoughts

The recent press reports linking Arsenal and other Premier League clubs to 14 year old attacking midfielder Charles Renken whose sterling play for the US U-17 team in the Bradenton Invitational last year caught many eyes is terrifying from my perspective. Despite the success Arsenal has had in developing young footballers, Americans have had nothing but trouble when they go to England at a young age.

I get annoyed when I hear fans of the US Soccer program state that we need to put more young players in the English Premier League. Yes, we need to put more players in Europe, but no we do not have to put more young, developiong players in the Premier League. Take the list of players who have gone to Premier League clubs from the US at a young age: Jovan Kirovski, John Thorrington, Frank Simek, Zac Whitebread ,Kenny Cooper, Kyle Davies, Eric Licaj and Jonathan Spector and contrast that with the list of players who have gone to Holland or Germany at a young age: John O’Brien, Gregg Berhalter, DaMarcus Beasley, Cory Gibbs, Steve Cherundolo, Chad Deering, Robbie Rogers and Michael Bradley. It has been accurately pointed out to me in defense of English Football that some teen players who showed raw potential in Africa or Eastern Europe have dramatically improved once getting to England: That very well may be the case but for American players whose early training in the United States lacks the type of technical skill emphasis of other points on the globe, going to the continent seems to be a more reasonable long term bet for a player’s development than going to England. In England many pundits, including Martin Samuel of the Times indicate that English academies teaching of technique and ball skills is not up to the same standard as it is on the continent. (Samuel wrote a column after England’s 2-0 loss to Croatia in Zagreb during Euro 2008 Qualifying about this topic and was pillaged as you would expect by the Times online readers, but his point hit home with me based on the experiences of American players on both the continent and England.)

Frank Simek signed with Arsenal at 14, the same age and he now remains an outsider in the US player pool struggling for recognition on a second division side in his twenties. This pattern has played out with many of the other Americans I listed above who went to England as teens to develop their footballing skills. On the other hand the list of youngsters who went to continental clubs or academies is more impressive and dare I say has been much more impactful on the fortunes of the US National Team program.

Charles Renken is a special player. He has the potential to be a similar, even complimentary player to Freddy Adu a few years down the road in the US setup. Along with Stefan Jerome and Carlos Martinez he represents part of an attacking trio that could lead to US to glory in upcoming youth world cups. However, all of this is predicated on Renkin making the right move following his time at the US Soccer’s Academy in Bradenton and continuing his impressive growth as a young player.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. bandeeto

    September 20, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Take the Colaship out of my list. don’t know what I was thinking.

  2. bandeeto

    September 20, 2008 at 9:50 am

    My order of perferance: Spain, Italy, Netherlands, France, MLS, Portugal, Colaship, Asia, Australia, the Moon, Jupiter… switch to speed skating… England.

    The EPL does not develop Americans! That includes Arsenal. The EPL has done nothing but harm to our US MNT. How many more Specter’s and Feilhabers must there for American players, and the American soccer lovin’ public, to get the hint? Stay off the island… at least untill you’re a mature/developed player. Then go for the money.

    PS yes I know that Feilhaber wasn’t a teenager when he went to england. So what? They still let him rot.

  3. Phillip

    September 18, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    I hope to God that Renken doesn’t go to MLS.

  4. kevquinnc

    September 18, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    I thought FIFA banned kids younger than 18 going to a different country, unless they’re EU members. Yes, they could set him up in Spain like they did with some Mexican kids (sorry I forgot the names) but I thought they, Arsenal, moved the whole family to get the player residence status. His adopted family, I believe, is pretty much settled in Edwardsville. Am I wrong? That being said the continent would be better and preferably Spain. MLS is always prefered though.

  5. NJ

    September 18, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Of the academies to go to in England, Arsenal is probably the best. However, I see your point, given the fact the names you mentioned have had an impact on the national team, while the EPL players have been non existent. I personally hope he remains in MLS the more skillful players we have the more interesting the league becomes.

  6. tyduffy

    September 18, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I agree with the genuine points about England. But, I think that if he was going to go through Arsenal’s academy, it’s worth the risk.

  7. Phillip

    September 18, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Renken should move where he sees fit. Arsenal would be a academy for him to move to… I don’t blame Arsenal for Frank Simek’s injuries that have kept him on the outside of our player pool.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Leagues: MLS

Translate »