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On the Record

Here's What People Are Saying About...Tim Ream

In a new recurring column for American Soccer Now, Laura Greene tracks what people—fans, coaches, and players—are saying about American soccer talent. This week: Tim Ream.
BY Laura Greene Posted
January 07, 2014
10:48 AM
AFTER A ROCKY START IN ENGLAND, Tim Ream’s steady upturn in form has been one of few silver linings in Bolton Wanderers’ otherwise cloudy skies.

In a season in which the club have announced debts of up to £163.8 million and currently languish just four places above the Championship relegation zone, positives—like league wins—are not easy to find.

Ream did not experience much in the way of plaudits or praise, either—especially during his first season with the club. He struggled to adapt to the rigors of English football and experienced, first-hand, relegation from the Premier League. However, Trotters fans have slowly warmed to the 26-year-old St. Louis native, just months after it looked like he was being frozen out of the side.

But what has the former New York Red Bulls man done to shift perceptions in his favor? In this recurring feature we track what fans, coaches, and players have to say on the topic.

As recently as July 2013, comments on Bolton fan forum “Burnden Aces” seemed to follow a less-than-enthusiastic theme, including this post: “It looks like we may be stuck with Tim Ream for a while yet,” typed one contributor.

“If he turns into at least a decent left back then I'll be very happy, he's not a center back in a million years though sadly. Big waste of money judging on what we've seen of him so far,” added another.

In the season that preceded these comments, large portions of Ream’s Championship campaign were spent on the bench, the defender appearing in just 15 games for Bolton in 2012/13.

In November 2012, in an interview with the New York Times, Ream admitted his frustrations about watching from the sidelines: “It was difficult," he said. "I had never experienced anything like that before—being left off the team. It was very frustrating. You question whether you made the right decision. At the end of day everyone wants to play. It’s a matter of putting your head down and getting back to basics. Just playing the game and working hard.”

In a June 14, 2013 interview with The Bolton News, Ream's agent, Patrick McCabe, denied rumors of a move to Middlesbrough and insisted that his client would be staying at the Reebok Stadium:

“Tim has very much liked being in Bolton. He is settled. Sure, he probably hasn’t seen as much game time as he would have liked, but my impression is that he is looking forward to getting back into preseason training and working hard to change that. He’s hoping for a fresh start.”

After making just one 71-minute appearance in the Wanderers’ first five games of the 2013/14 season, it looked like Ream was going to suffer another term on the periphery of Dougie Freedman’s plans.

The defender’s last involvement with the United States men's national team was also starting to become a distant memory. His last outing came in 2011, in a friendly against Ecuador.

However, a recall to Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. camp for an August friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina pointed toward a reversal of fortune, even if Ream remained on the bench for the American squad.

Shortly after, in Bolton’s 1-0 home loss to Leeds—game six of the season—Ream was given 90 minutes in midfield. Praise swiftly followed.

“In the defensive midfield role, new life has been breathed into Tim Ream,” wrote Mark Yesilevskiy on Wanderers fan site Lion of Vienna Suite. “The American has been a revelation for a struggling Bolton Wanderers team. The hope now is that his ability to push forward will spur the rest of the team on.”

After four games in the center of the park, Ream was teamed up with Matt Mills in central defence—forming a solid back line that went eight games without defeat.

“In my whole time at Bolton, Tim and I have never lost when paired together at the back,” Mills told The Bolton News. “That breeds confidence when you can go into games knowing you have a decent partnership with someone."

The tide was beginning to turn.

“Kind of embarrassing that we were so publicly trying to offload Ream and Mills to anyone who'd listen all summer and now they're the two linchpins holding our somewhat rickety side together at the moment,” a fan wrote on October 30 on the site http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk.

Another added: “He was always a good player but just needed consistency and now that he's got it, he's proving a lot of people wrong. I remember a few people posting on here that they'd give him away for free, just to get him off our books, which was obviously ridiculous. If he keeps this form up and avoids injury, he'll be our player of the season.”

Manager Dougie Freedman paid tribute to Ream’s efforts in forcing his way back into the team, in an interview with The Bolton News: “I'd say that Tim does look a different player and it's full credit to him because it is entirely down to sheer hard work. He is really in top condition. In the afternoons, when one or two of the lads will be on their way home, he is out there with the coaches working on his heading and on his technique. I think he is probably one of the best technical defenders in the division, very comfortable and composed on the ball and he reads situations very well.”

From bottom of the pecking order to being considered as one of the best in the Championship—it has been an impressive ascent.

Just a few days ago on the Lion of Vienna Suite, fan Liam O’Meara picked out Ream as a candidate for Bolton’s player of the 2013/14 campaign: “As for the current season, there have been two stand out players, both of whom would have been eagerly off loaded by the Wanderers over the summer. Matt Mills and Tim Ream have formed a very good partnership at centre-back and seem to compliment each other perfectly. The brawn of Mills mixed with the flair of Ream, who I firmly believed to be the worst player I had seen play for Bolton, have been a real positive so far this season.”

Deployed at left back in Bolton’s last three outings (in all competitions), Ream continues to gather praise for his performances:

Ream is on the up and with the World Cup approaching, perhaps his stock will continue to rise—complete with a call-up and a ticket to Brazil.

Would you like to see Ream on the U.S. World Cup team? Has he earned a spot or does he have more to do? Share your thoughts below.

This is Laura Greene's first piece for American Soccer Now. Follow her on Twitter.

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