Comets trade for 2021 MASL Defender of the Year

by Nathan Dunn

The Kansas City Comets have acquired another elite defender in a trade with the Empire Strykers. MASL all-time blocks leader Robert 'Berto' Palmer has returned to the Comets for a first-round pick in the 2024-25 MASL Pro Combine Draft, a third-round pick in the 2023 MASL College Draft and cash considerations.

Palmer returns to the Comets for the 12th season of his professional career following a three-year stint with Empire. Palmer won 2021 MASL Defender of the Year as he helped Empire, then known as Ontario Fury, to the Ron Newman Cup Finals. He was also selected to the MASL Elite Six in 2021 and 2022.

“The Empire Strykers have a long tradition of being a player first focused organization,” said Brian Budzinski, Comets Managing Partner. "We appreciate their professionalism to work with Berto and the Comets on his return home to Kansas City.”

Palmer is grateful for his time with the Strykers, “I’m thankful and blessed for the organization. I’d like to thank them for making me feel at home, away from home. We were close to winning a championship and we created some great memories that will always remain with me.”

Palmer brings a wealth of talent and experience as MASL's all-time blocks leader with 253. He can also pose an offensive threat, scoring an MASL record seven short-handed goals. In over 200 games, Palmer has tallied 81 goals and 71 assists.

“Coming home is something that I thought was bound to happen. It’s great to be back with a lot of the guys I’ve known for years.”

A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Palmer played four years at Park University before signing with the Comets during the 2012-13 season. Palmer helped the team to the MISL Finals in his rookie year before hoisting the trophy the following year.

Palmer remained a Comet until joining the Tacoma Stars for the 2017-18 season. He returned to Kansas City for the following two years before signing with Empire in 2021.

This past summer Palmer was a standout defender at The Soccer Tournament as he helped Newtown Pride FC take home the $1 million prize in Cary, North Carolina. He also returned to the sidelines for his alma mater, serving as an assistant coach in an indoor-heavy coaching staff for Park's men's soccer team including former Attack player Efrem Shimlis and former Comets player and coach Goran Karadjov.

“Berto has won multiple championships,” Budzinski added. “Including with our organization and at TST this past summer. While he is considered one of the top defenders in the MASL, he might be an even better member of our community.”

This will be Palmer's eighth season with the Comets and he has signed an extension through 2025-26.