Local duo look to land MLS deals
Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor - Sport
REGGAE BOYZ Lovel Palmer and Navion Boyd are hoping to capitalise on a one-week trial opportunity with Houston Dynamo and land a professional contract in the United States Major League Soccer (MLS).
The duo left the island yesterday morning and joined the Texas-based MLS outfit in Orlando, Florida, where the team is holding a preseason training camp.
"I feel good," said Boyd, a striker who plays for Tivoli Gardens, prior to their early morning departure from the Norman Manley International Airport. "I want to go there and be a part of it."
Palmer, a versatile player who operates effectively as a midfielder or full back and is attached to Harbour View Football Club, says the trial gives him a sense of achievement.
"I feel elated to know that my talent and performance isn't gone unrecognised," he said. "I'm blessed to be going on a trial. This is what I've been working for."
He added. "It's just for me to go there and execute and hope that, at the end of the day, they will see what the national coach (Theodore Whitmore) has seen in me, and feel impressed to include me in their set-up. Being a part of the national team and playing in the last couple of games, I have to give thanks to coach Whitmore for that."
This is the second trial opportunity for Palmer, who did a stint at Norwegian club IK Start in February last year.
"Now I'm more experienced, I'll use the last one as a learning curve," admitted the 25-year-old, who has so far scored six goals in the premier league this season.
Both have captained their premier league outfits at different periods this season and were starters in Jamaica's friendly international football match against soccer powerhouse Argentina a fortnight ago, in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The match ended 2-1 in favour of the eighth-ranked South Americans. given their creditable performance, both say the experience gained in the national lineup has strengthened their self-belief.
"It's very high, right now," Boyd said of his confidence, adding that it has also been heightened by "my performance in the premier league and the national programme; it has helped me a lot".
Continuing, he noted: "I think opportunities like this you have to take with both hands. Everybody's dream is to play at the highest level, but you've to start from somewhere," added the 22-year-old striker ,who was substituted early on Sunday in Tivoli Gardens' 4-0 triumph at Sporting Central Academy, for precautionary reasons.
"My club took me off early, just after we had scored the first goal because they didn't want to risk me getting injured," said Boyd, who has netted 10 goals this season.
Contrastingly, Palmer's team came out on the losing end of a three-goal game at August Town, where they actually led. He says this opportunity is "very timely", and pointed out that he pondered quitting the game.
"At a point at the beginning of the 2010 season I was having some mixed feelings. I was saying that this would be the last season for my club, and was thinking of calling it off and stop playing. But when coach Whitmore called me for the Ecuador game it gave me some boost again ... that your work had not gone unnoticed.
"So I made a commitment to myself that I just want to give one more season. I'm pulling out all the stops, putting out all the extra work that is needed, and it seems to be paying off."
The opportunity is being facilitated by the Premier League Clubs Association, whose assistant secretary, Pat Garel, accompanied the players to the airport.
"It is in an effort to assist the clubs to provide opportunities to the players ... and to provide financial opportunities for the clubs," she noted of their involvement, noting that if the players are successful, contracts "... would be negotiated with their clubs".
Only last week, another Reggae Boy, Rivoli United's Devon Hodges, who is the league's leading goalscorer, left for a trial stint at MLS team Colorado Rapids.