Photo by Brad Mills/USA Today Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
WASHINGTON – Following the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2-1 victory over Peru, there was one defensive player’s name that was repeated time and time again.
Tim Ream. Tim Ream. Tim Ream.
Thrust into a semi-familiar position in left back, Ream proved plenty capable, stepping in in a jam and providing a sturdy presence in the absence of the incumbent DaMarcus Beasley. Ream held his own a number of individual battles against Peru’s talented attackers, and also connected on some nice passes.
Overall, Ream played the fullback position with relative ease, something unseen earlier in his career. Having developed in the position as a member of Bolton, Ream has grown in recent seasons, developing a certain level of versatility that is very appreciated in a national team.
Yet, for Ream, Friday night wasn’t so much a turning point as it was a statement that he is ready to step in and contribute, no matter the position head coach Jurgen Klinsmann asks him to play.
“I think the biggest thing is that I’ve matured as a player, matured as a person and learned the position in a really difficult league (in the Championship),” Ream said. “I learned the ins and outs of it. It’s put me in a good spot to come in here and play either centerback or left back. From what I can tell, they’re comfortable playing me in either spot.
“It’s just a matter of getting used to it really. Back in the day, you probably didnt want to see me play left back, I hadn’t played there in so long, but now, two seasons, 40-something games in the position, I’m pretty comfortable playing either or.”
Ream’s recent renaissance was hard to envision just a few short years ago. Uncapped between 2011 and 2014, Ream was almost completely on the outs of the USMNT picture despite all of his successes at the club level. Filling in as a centerback, left back and even a defensive midfielder while earning honor after honor with Bolton, Ream was still often absent from USMNT’s call-up lists.
Change began in 2014 with Ream earning four appearances, though no starts. Yet 2015 has proven to be Ream’s best and brightest on the international stage, and the Fulham defender has earned starts in each of the last two USMNT contests.
In light of his recent success, Ream remembers exactly what it was like to be the forgotten man, making his recent return to the national team all the much sweeter.
“I think that it happened to a lot of us,” Ream said. “Young kids, thrown into South Africa and getting (their first) call-ups. Then, all of a sudden, you’re pushed down the pecking order because other guys step up.”
Now, it is Ream that’s the one stepping up, helping his team out in a real bind.
“It’s very respectful, but it’s very dynamic as well,” Klinsmann said of the logjam in defense. “I think Tim Ream played a very, very solid game and won many one-against-one situations. He played simply out of the back, which is what we asked him to do, which he’s known for.
“It’s good to see and we feel good about it. We feel good about our contenders on the flank and in the middle, that they could get the job done.”
Klinsmann’s statement must come off as music to Ream’s ears, as the defender’s continued objective is to help the team in some form or fashion.
It does not matter where he plays, either. Ream is just looking to find the field more consistently while once again demonstrating that he belongs among the very best that the U.S. has to offer.
Performances like Friday’s will do nothing but help.
“Wherever I’m given a chance or given an opportunity, I’m going to take it with both hands and run with it,” Ream said. “I’m going to make the decisions in their job difficult on who to choose. That’s the way I’ve approached this last year or so with limited minutes and now getting more minutes.”