It wasn't so long ago that Charles Renken was a soccer wunderkind. By the age of 10, he was dominating much older boys and by 16 he had signed his first professional contract with Germany's Hoffenheim. But a pair of knee surgeries derailed his once promising career, and now, still just 18, he has been signed by the Portland Timbers.
The signing drew some instant cackles, though, as the official release said the Timbers had obtained him through "MLS waivers," despite the fact that Renken had never been waived by a MLS team. Generally speaking, an active United States youth national team player, as Renken is, goes through either the allocation order or through a lottery. Apparently, no other team was willing to risk their allocation rights in order to acquire Renken's services.
I'm told Portland landed Charles Renken off MLS waivers because every other team in MLS passed on him, so there was no need for a lottery.— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) February 1, 2012
That explanation may be a touch hard to understand, but is not so crazy as to be literally unbelievable. At his best Renken has been as good as any American soccer prospect. But he has rarely played since signing that first pro contract and is largely an unknown quantity.
For more on the signing, be sure to check out Timbers blog Stumptown Footy.