As tends to happen, lots of MLS Superdraft predictions turned out to just be plain wrong. Otis Earle, projected by some to be picked as high as fifth, fell to FC Dallas at number 15. Oscar Pareja and company couldn't pass on the 6-foot left back from UC Riverside.
Earle played his college soccer in the Big West, a conference that is overshadowed by the Pac 12, but that regularly competes with teams from BCS conferences. Defense in the conference can be brutally physical. Styles vary a ton, but mostly teams play a counterattacking style.
What kind of player has Earle been? More importantly, what kind of player can he be?
Technical Director, Fernando Clavijo thinks Earle can be very good for FC Dallas.
"We were looking for a specific place in the back and Otis was one of the first picks that we had in mind to replace Jair and now we are really pleased to be honest with you," said Clavijo.
As Drew posted previously, Earle scored five goals in his college career. Truth be told, I only saw Earle play once in-person. UC Riverside lost that match 5-1. The Highlanders' only goal that night came via an Earle goal after a long run down the left side.
You can find it at 3:35 of this video. First, enjoy some highlights.
While some press boxes in the Big West might be facing into the California sun, the video above shows Earle's skill pretty nicely.
Earle was always big and strong enough to play in the center of defense if needed. Riverside, which was a strong enough team to win the Big West's southern division this year, boasted a relatively physical attack. This enabled Earle to pick his spots and freed him up to use his athleticism to get down the field.
While Earle is big enough to challenge for balls in the air, his specialty was dispossessing defenders with his feet and making attacking runs up the left side of the field.
Timing means everything when you're a defender. Earle seems to have it. In the short time I watched him, he seemed to come out on the right end of close calls in the box.
A lot of timing is fearlessness and aggression. Earle definitely has both.
In the short highlight video below, some of his good timing is on display.
According to Clavijo, Earle has the pace to play in FC Dallas' counterattacking system.
"I think he has a lot of attitude to the game that is going to help us. He’s a guy that can go up and down the field," said Clavijo.
We know how the Hoops like at least one of their outside backs to get forward and make plays on the wing. Clavijo and Oscar Pareja hope that he can improve his service and play the vacated role of Jair Benitez. With Benitez gone and Moises Hernandez still young, the potential for Earle to get time pretty quickly is real.
Dallas fans should be pleased that Earle is a player the team really wanted. His father played in the Premier League, so you can be pretty sure that a big stage and playing at the professional level will not phase him.
"I thought he was going to go earlier. We’re pleased we got a position that we needed. We got an athlete that has a good background in the game and it’s going to help us get better," said Clavijo.
Earle has the physical skills to play at this level, he fills a need for the team, and the coaches already have a specific need the team has.
Sounds like a great fit to me.
"It’s a dream come true," said Earle. "FC Dallas is a great team. I met with them during the Combine and really liked the coaching staff. I got a good feel for what they want to do, how they want to play and I thought that was a team I could contribute to. I’m really thankful for the opportunity and just ready to get to work now."