Lovel Palmer has passed the first test, but bigger challenges lie in store if he is to step into the Houston Dynamo's midfield.
Palmer was in Houston on Friday, training on the first day of a second one-week trial with the club. His play during the first trial, including a spectacular long-range goal against FC Dallas on February 27, earned him the callback ahead of several other trialists.
"He obviously scored a great goal that stood out, but it was also the way he worked on and off the ball," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said. "He tried to get on the ball, he broke up plays, and he tackled - sometimes very hard - which we like in that position. He was clean with the ball and made good decisions."
Palmer, 25, is under contract with Jamaican club Harbour View, where he is team captain, but the Premier League Clubs Association in Jamaica is looking to sell players to Major League Soccer to raise money, and Palmer may have found a good fit.
"I'm very happy that I was chosen to come here," Palmer said. "The Houston Dynamo is one of the most successful teams in MLS, so I'm very happy. I've been following the league for a long time. I know the Dynamo are one of the best teams in the league and have been one of the most successful."
Palmer's familiarity with the league comes in part due to the presence of countrymen and national teammates like the New York Red Bulls' Dane Richards, formerly of San Jacinto Junior College in the Houston area, the Philadelphia Union's Shavar Thomas, and former MLS Rookie of the Year Damani Ralph, but he also keeps a close eye on the entire region.
"A lot of Jamaican and Caribbean players are here, so I follow the league because I have a lot of friends that play in the MLS, and I think it's an excellent league," Palmer said. "I also know about Brian Ching, who plays for the United States national team and also the Dynamo. He's an excellent player who I've been watching for a long time."
The Dynamo are looking at Palmer, who has made 12 international appearances for Jamaica, most recently suiting up against Argentina, to fill the defensive midfield spot vacated by the offseason departure of Ricardo Clark to Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany. If his goal against Dallas and his shooting in Friday's training session are any indication, Palmer might be able to provide more scoring punch than Clark, whose long-range efforts were often hit-or-miss.
In Orlando, Palmer played as the most defensive of a midfield trio in a 3-5-2 formation, but the Dynamo expect to use their tried-and-tested 4-4-2 formation most of the year, so Kinnear wants a slightly longer look at Palmer.
"It was important that he be here for the Chicago game, since that's another MLS team, to see how he plays against them," Kinnear said. "He did pretty well against New York and Dallas, but it's a different formation - we'll probably go back to our 4-4-2 - so we want to see how he handles that, and we want to see how he mixes in with the locker room. I think he's done well so far."
For his part, Palmer said he has received a warm welcome from players and staff, and that has allowed him to perform well on the field, where he believes he can make an impact.
"They made me feel comfortable, so I could execute and play," Palmer said. "I think I can help in central midfield - the coach is saying I'm quick, so I can move and tackle, and I have some goal-scoring ability, as you saw in the game against Dallas. I think I'm a good asset to the team. If they sign me, they won't regret it."