The 22 year old native of Dublin, Ireland, just signed a one-year deal to return to Rochester. Danny Earls left the Aston Villa reserves to to join the Rhinos in 2008 as an 18 year old prospect. While in the Rhinos’ lineup for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the Irish winger showed why he was working his way through the ranks of an English Premier League club. His exciting play, attacking from the wings and sending incisive crosses into the strikers, made him a fan-favorite. Today he comes back to the Rhinos a better player than he was when he left.
Earls is a natural wingback/winger and while he was in Rochester he developed a rapport with left back Scott Palguta, with whom he would later play in MLS, and player-coach Steve Guppy. Guppy himself is a wingback/winger and was somewhat of a mentor for the young Irishman. At the end of the 2008 season, Guppy left to be an assistant coach with Colorado Rapids of MLS. During the 2009 preseason, Palguta followed him to become the starting left back for the club. After Earls finished the 2009 season with the Rhinos, he too joined his former teammates at the Rapids. Finding starts harder to come by, Earls parted ways with the MLS club this past January 2012 a stronger and more well-rounded player.
“It’s great to be back in Rochester, and I’m looking forward to playing with the Rhinos again this season,” said Earls. “The locker room has a good group of experienced guys. We’ve had a good training camp and we’re looking forward to the start of the season.”
Our starting back-line is pretty stacked with Quavas Kirk, Tyler Bellamy, Troy Roberts and one of Jack Traynor or Mike Zaher. Because of this, Danny Earls has been playing as a winger for the Rhinos during preseason. Having both Earls and 2011 Rookie of the Year J.C. Banks providing width and the ability to take on defenders and cross dangerous balls into the box will make the Rhinos a much more dynamic team than they were last year. Having a right footed winger in Banks and a left footer in Earls means the team can successfully attack in a traditional 4-4-2 with balls played in from wide or in a 4-5-1 with advanced wingers cutting in centrally to shoot on their favored foot.
“To say we’re thrilled to sign Danny Earls would probably be the understatement of the year.” said first year head coach Jesse Myers. “Three or four years ago Danny was a bright young prospect, but now that he’s been in Major League Soccer he is returning as a seasoned young veteran. His work rate, his technical class, and his ability to serve a ball set him apart.”
There are two things that I love about this type of signing, regardless of how exciting the player in question is. First is that we are re-signing a former player. The idea of returning other players who left Rochester for greener pastures at a turning point in their careers is very intriguing. I bet you already have a list in your head of players you’d like to see back. The second point is that Earls returns as a “seasoned young veteran,” as Myers put it. Earls, who turns 23 later this month, joins Quavas Kirk (23) as a young player with at least two years of quality playing experience in MLS.
Kirk played 43 league games across three seasons with Los Angeles Galaxy and D.C. United. Tyler Rosenlund (25) made 8 appearances in two seasons with Toronto FC. Conor Chinn (24) played a full season with New York Red Bulls and part of 2011 with Real Salt Lake. Joining this core of young players with the highest level of professional experience in the United States is Earls (22), who made 22 appearances in the league and 3 starts in the CONCACAF Champions’ League. Earls made 14 starts in the 2010 MLS season to help the Colorado Rapids lift the MLS cup.
This signing should excite all Rhinos fans, whether you remember Earls’s previous stint or not. The team now has the ability to play entertaining quick counter attacking soccer from both flanks, as well as a slower possession based build up play through the center. 2012 is shaping up to be a good looking season for soccer in Rochester.
Another player with a Colorado Rapids connection is Mac Hemmi, who played central midfield and right defense for the club’s u23 team while in college. Hemmi is still on trial with the Rhinos, but because he provides depth in two areas short of options, I expect Hemmi to be one of the trialists signed after the last preseason match and before the season starts up.