USA defender Tim Ream is a man in demand

United States defender Tim Ream hopes to consolidate his place in the squad and earn a starting berth in time for the friendly against Peru on Friday (live, 7:00p.m. ET, FS1, FOX Sports Go).

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Quiet efficiency hardly serves as the best way to attract attention, but it is the way Tim Ream carries out his business. Ream shoulders his responsibilities day after day without deviating from the task set in front of him. His steadiness earned him supporters’ player of the year honors at Bolton Wanderers in each of the past two seasons. It also set the stage for him to emerge from the shadows and step into the spotlight this summer.

Ream emerged as a man in demand for both club and country. He made two starts in the CONCACAF Gold Cup after spending most of the time since his return to the international scene last year as a squad player. He returned to England after the tournament to find Fulham and Queens Park Rangers vying for his services. He assessed his options, contemplated the impact of the move, made what he labeled a tough decision to leave Bolton and sealed a transfer to Fulham last month.

Both developments amplified Ream’s considered and thoughtful ascent over the past four years. It is a climb Ream hopes to continue as he builds upon his work at the Gold Cup and targets a starting berth ahead of the friendly against Peru on Friday (live, 7:00p.m. ET, FS1, FOX Sports GO).

“It’s a confidence thing, obviously,” Ream said as he reflected on the importance of his Gold Cup assignments. “In the camps prior, maybe you weren’t getting as much of a look as you wanted and playing very few minutes, but being called in for an important tournament and getting a couple of games there is nice. It’s more validation of what you’ve done the previous couple of seasons. I want to carry that into this camp and these two games and, hopefully, get even more playing time.”

It was a tough decision. You spend three and a half years in a place and you get settled off the field and you get comfortable on the field. It becomes home. It was hard leaving, but I felt — for me personally, for my career and for my family — it was time for a new challenge and a change. I wanted to see what was out there. Fortunately, two teams with very big ambitions came in. It was just a matter of choosing from there.

U.S. defender Tim Ream on his decision to leave Bolton Wanderers and sign for Fulham this summer.

It is within grasp given the tumultuous state of affairs in the U.S. defense at the moment. Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks are both under scrutiny in central defense, while DaMarcus Beasley, Timothy Chandler and Fabian Johnson are all ruled out as potential fullback options for this part of games against Peru and Brazil. There are no certainties in this window or for the Confederations Cup playoff against Mexico next month.

Ream presents a valid case for consideration in the middle or on the left. He rose to prominence with New York Red Bulls with his combination of anticipation, distribution and positioning in central defense, while he served as a reliable performer at left back for Bolton Wanderers over the past couple of seasons even as quicker alternatives attempted to take his place.

“He’s obviously continued to develop,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “He gets his head down and works hard. I’ve seen him week-in and week-out in England at Bolton. It’s a credit to him.”

Those qualities and those strides make him a potentially vital option amid the upheaval. The absences of Beasley (the preferred choice on the left, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said on Wednesday) and Johnson and the glut of choices in the middle — including Brooks and Matt Besler in Ream’s likely perch on the left side of that partnership — point toward a more likely berth on the left at this point.


Ream faces competition from a more traditional fullback option in Atlas defender Greg Garza, but he also knows the technical staff boasts some confidence in him out on the left after he started there in the Gold Cup third-place match against Panama.

It is a choice outside of his purview, though. He feels comfortable in either position. He knows he boasts the ability to perform his duties wherever he is assigned. He just hopes his credentials warrant his inclusion in either spot.

“It’s one of those where I feel comfortable being on the field,” Ream said. “I know that’s the cliché answer, but that’s the way I feel. I don’t pick and choose. If I’m given an opportunity at center back or left back, I’m going to take it. You can’t come in here and dictate where you’re going to play and tell them where you want to play. They get to decide. They’re the coaching staff. That’s all there is to it. And you just have to roll with it.”

It is an assessment befitting Ream’s approach across the board. He marches onwards with his ambitions for both club and country firmly in tow. His focus on the task at hand and his methodical approach to sorting out his duties continues to benefit him. It is time to see how far it can carry him as he grapples with the challenges ahead.