Clear skies and temperatures in the 60s greeted the Dynamo for their first double training sessions of the year on Wednesday. In a change from typical routine, players worked on fitness in the morning before taking part in a more standard training session in the afternoon.
The morning workout was short but grueling; the session was so focused on running that the team’s bags of soccer balls never left the locker room. Midfielder Lovel Palmer, going through his first full preseason with the club, said the morning session was a good place to start getting in game shape.
“I got to evaluate my fitness level – where I’m at, how much I need to work – and pace myself, because we have six weeks to work,” Palmer said. “It was a nice run, and the guys are really pushing, because we didn’t have a good season last year, so I see everyone is really working hard to have a better season.”
The versatile Palmer has played all over the field in his career, playing central midfield for the Dynamo last year after also playing right midfield and several defensive positions with the Jamaican national team and Jamaican clubs. While any lineup assignments are premature this early in preseason, Palmer reiterated that he is open to any spot head coach Dominic Kinnear might choose.
“For me personally, I’m here to play wherever or do whatever it takes to make the team better,” Palmer said. “I’m sure other guys think the same, because Geoff [Cameron] is saying to himself, ‘I wonder if I’m going to play center mid, attacking mid, or center back,’ but the long and short of it is, wherever the coach thinks is best for the team, that’s where he’s going to play.”
The Dynamo are expected to welcome several trialists seeking a senior contract as the preseason continues, with several spots still open. Which players impress enough to earn a contract will likely determine where some of Houston’s versatile players, such as Cameron, Palmer, and Andrew Hainault, end up.
Cameron, who missed half of the 2010 season with a PCL tear, gave everyone a scare in Wednesday’s afternoon session when he grabbed his knee after a stumble, but he quickly got to his feet and resumed training. The team finished with a half-field scrimmage to small goals, with a more experienced squad in blue against a younger team in orange.
The rare afternoon training time meant a different crew of onlookers thanks to University of Houston practices going on nearby; a softball rolled onto the field at one point, while sprinters showed off their touch on a few stray soccer balls. In the end, Dynamo players stretched together on the sideline before heading back to the locker room in high spirits.
“I don’t know if it’s because it’s the first couple of days and everyone is happy to see each other and happy to be back, but everyone is really jovial and making jokes,” Palmer said. “We really miss some of the old guys, but I’m sure guys will step up to the plate, and the young guys will gravitate quickly toward what the Houston Dynamo way is, and we’ll be trying to win another championship for the team.”