BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Frank Yallop made his first acquisition as Fire head coach and Director of Soccer Friday afternoon, trading allocation money to Real Salt Lake in exchange for Jamaican defender/midfielder Lovel Palmer from Real Salt Lake.
“I’m feeling good,” Palmer told Chicago-Fire.com via phone from Kingston. “It wouldn’t be fair if I said I wanted to get out of Salt Lake, it was a bittersweet feeling. I love the fans in Salt Lake, the guys were great to me, a great franchise and great city that welcomed me. At the same time I have to say I’m elated to move to Chicago Fire.”
The Mandeville, Jamaica product has been somewhat of a journeyman in MLS, playing previously with Houston and Portland before joining RSL through the 2012 Re-Entry Draft.
It was on the Wasatch Front where Palmer saw his career horizons expand, filling in at left and right back on the way to earning 17 appearances, plus three in the MLS Cup playoffs for RSL
“When I went to Salt Lake I thought I was just going to be playing on the right side backing up Tony Beltran but it turns out Jason [Kreis] and his staff had other ideas for me. I’m really happy the way the season turned out playing left and right back, I think it made me a more complete and wanted player.”
Reached for comment Friday, Yallop praised Palmer’s versatility. It seems at the moment, Palmer’s role will be as a competitor to push the likes of both starting full backs Jalil Anibaba and Gonzalo Segares.
“Lovel had a great season with Salt Lake and was very consistent at both fullback positions,” said the Fire head coach. “Right now we see him as a utility defender that can come in and do a good job at left or right back and provide some additional cover in midfield if needed.”
The move also reunites Palmer with former RSL assistant and newly named Fire assistant coach C.J. Brown.
“I’m elated to continue with C.J.,” said Palmer. “He’s a guy that I have a lot of respect for and he appreciates and respects my game. I’m looking forward to working with him again as well as Frank Yallop in Chicago. Hopefully we’ll try to create what we had in Salt Lake or even something better.
Palmer also said countrymen and former Fire players Andy Williams and Damani Ralph spoke highly of the club and city to him when the trade was on the table.
Not even a week after missing the penalty kick which saw RSL fall to Sporting KC in the MLS Cup final, Palmer says he’s moved on from the disappointment and is already looking ahead to 2014 in Chicago.
“As I told all my friends and family and everyone who was being sympathetic with me, I had one thing in mind when I stepped up to take a PK and it was just to smash it as hard as I could and that’s exactly what I did. I’m not happy with the outcome but I was confident enough to go up and do it.
“Come next year if the Fire are in a shootout situation, I’ll be more than willing to step up again because you have to take your chances – if you don’t take it you’re not going to score. I’m over it, I’m not going to have one PK define my career, I know I’m a good player and my teammates had confidence in me to step up and take it."