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Charles Renken

Hoffenheim’s American Coup


1899 Hoffenheim was the biggest story in European football last fall.The newly promoted side was leading the Bundesliga as Christmas approached. Of course, Hoffenheim fell off but they left their mark on the world of football and the Bundesliga.

Today, Hoffenheim signed two of the best young American prospects ever:  attacker Joseph-Claude Gyau and midfielder Charles Renken. Gyau is 16, and Renken is 15. Both will be leaving Bradenton early to join Hoffenheim’s youth program.

Renken, for his part was courted by just about every major team in Germany and England. Last year, we discussed Renken’s potential move to Arsenal, and reiterated my long held belief that Americans develop better when in Germany or Holland than in England.

With this in mind, I am relived that Renken along with Gyau will get a proper education in the game, leaving Bradenton early and headed to perhaps the best league to develop youngsters on the planet.

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  1. Erik

    August 26, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    kartik is now among the leaders of the amaerican eurosnob committee. what did europe do with sztela? kyle davies? johann smith? kartik, why don’t you be fair and instead list the guys that failed in europe that would have been better in mls.

    mols is probably one of the top 2-3 development leagues in thr world. it’s these guys loss they choose to chase the big money as kids and go overseas. just ask robbie rogers who came back from holland and improved in mls- europe is not what it is made out to be.

    • Lowell

      August 26, 2009 at 1:21 pm

      Why play in a “developmental league” when I can play in a bona fide one? Why play in front of 3,000 people when I can play in front of 30,000? Why play somewhere where my name will NEVER show up in the local papers when I can play somewhere that the media wants to interview me after a match?

      There is no “minor leagues” for soccer studs in the US. Young players dont face the same competition in college and are better off playing overseas where they are engaged in a more professional game.

      If I’m in a position to play in a big-time league in a country that drools over soccer… what are my choices? Its a no brainer to chase the money and head to Europe. If I stay domestic, I’ll get to play with 40-year olds in the MLS. Oh the joy!

  2. Lowell

    August 26, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I am glad these KIDS werent signed by an MLS club. You all know they’d be playing next season and getting their asses handed to them. Once more, if I wanted to watch youth soccer, I’d go to the local park.

    Look at Freddy Adu… he played MLS at a young age and for starters lacked the size necessary to do anything productive. While speed does kill, so does getting a “bump” and falling flat on your face whining for a foul.

  3. Lowell

    August 26, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Does this spell the end of Bradenton?

    Great for our young US players to get signed internationally and learn in perhaps a better (more competitive) environment. But at the end of the day… Bradenton could be on the verge of uselessness.

    This is soccer, and unlike hockey or football with their infinite numer of “plays,” soccer is executed on-the-fly. Yes there are plays for set pieces and throw-ins, etc, but not to the extend of other sports.

    What does Bradenton provide? Some “better coaching,” than youth soccer… perhaps?

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      August 26, 2009 at 9:04 am

      It can be argued in the case of Jozy Altidore that he got better coaching from foreign minded and inspired teachers (German and Latino) at the youth level here in south Florida than at Bradenton. A few months ago, I did a story on the track record of Bradenton. When it was created it was better than what we had but now as youth soccer has stepped up over the last 10 years, it’s become simply another USSF run program that has its positives but also its biases and bureaucratic side. Ultimately, getting these kids off to Europe at a young age or the new owners of USL putting more resources into a reinvigorated Super Y, would render Bradenton less critical to the development of American players than it is now. (Part of me wants USL to just scrap its professional divisions and focus on Super Y, Super 20 and PDL, because those are what the league does well, and without those divisions of USL, US Soccer would not be as far along)

      Also, if MLS would step up, negotiate a viable and reasonable CBA and give teams incentives to not only set up academies, but move those players through the system we’d be better off. Red Bull has tried a full academy with USL Super Y, USSF Development Academy and USL Super 20 teams. but ran into trouble with MLS’ odd rules.

      If the CBA changes, MLS can help the cause as well.

      • Lowell

        August 26, 2009 at 9:19 am

        How does a player (kid) get found? Is the academy at Bradenton like the USOC center in Colordao where rich kids get speacilized sports educations?

        I’ve seen 8 and 9 year old kids that take to formal instruction and have a passion for practicing on their own, but with so many out their, who is combing the parks and passing out invitations?

        My 2 year old knows left foot from right foot, follows his shot, drags his toe on throw ins… is he a prodigy (the chances are not high) but he does this all on his own. A few years from now, will I need to send him to a soccer camp in England and therefore circulate his name on an enrollment roster before a coach (from Bradenton or elsewhere) pays us a visit?

        The hope of brokering a lucrative deal for my son will be the impetus to attend UM law and complete the trifecta.

  4. Alejandro RUiz

    August 26, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Theyre going to train in Vancouver, site of of a future MLS academy for the 1st year. *gasp* *gasp* *gasp*

    Also, remember the last time MLS teams signed a 14-15 year old to play with adults? How did that workout? Fact is, MLS can’t afford to sign youngsters that young…….quite yet, they can only afford to splurge on players that will contribute NOW. Not until every team has a full academy like Vancouver, unfortunately the NCAA is the biggest obstacle. They don’t allow full-residency academies.

    Anyway, in some peoples eyes MLS will never be legit no matter what they do. Anyway, it’s not going to happen overnight. They’re finally getting an academy system and graduating them to the senior team. Mainly, Chivas USA (Ironic?)………who has 3 of them on their roster. They’re basically tapping the southern california latino player pool, which as everyone said…… full of overlooked players.

    Anyway, in 10 years all MLS teams should have euopean style academies and rendering bradenton moot and the young players will be able to get just as good as environment as they would in Europe or Latin America.

  5. s.y.l.c.

    August 25, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I’ll won’t complain unless this continues to be a problem after the CBA.

  6. kyle

    August 25, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Once again MLS shows how poorly run it is. Nevermind signing two highly rated american kids, lets just sign more 35 year old Hondurans.

    • Adam Edg

      August 25, 2009 at 11:06 pm

      On the money. Yeah sending two kids to a top development program/club in Germany is good for our national team, but MLS should be focused on developing, nurturing, and maintaining world caliber AMERICAN players in the US. As much as I enjoy watching MLS for what it is, it will never be considered truly legit until it finds, signs, develops, nurtures, keeps, and improves these types of players.

  7. eplnfl

    August 25, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    More great news for the development of the USMNT and all of soccer in the US. With the increased visibilty of European leagues in the US the more Americans that go the better(in one respect) since we can follow them on our own TV. Yet, wouldn’t we all love to see a MLS team grab up young American talent.

  8. cory

    August 25, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    wow, this could potentially be great news for those two kids and us soccer. hoffenheim is an A+ club when it comes to player development. smart move in my opinion.

  9. soccer goals

    August 25, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I hope that REnken returns fhealthy from his knee injury.

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