Tim Ream’s rise from collegiate stand out at Saint Louis University to U.S. Men’s National Team player didn’t take long. The New York Red Bull center back started 32 games in 2010, won the team’s defender of the year award and was a finalist for the Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year.
This season, Ream has continued to shine at the back for the Red Bulls, so much so that he’s received interest from European clubs – Dutch side PSV Eindhoven and recently Arsenal (Wenger looking for a bargain, surprise!), who’s desperate for a center back.
Ream has become become a focal point for the next generation of USMNT. He is widely regarded as the future center back for the USMNT because of his ability to pass out of the back and distribute. In Saturday’s 2-2 tie with the New England Revolution, Ream showed his ability to find the right pass and deliver a weighted ball from the center of the defense when he lifted a ball over Revolution defender Ryan Cochrane and into the path of a streaking Dane Richards, who finished the chance to open the scoring for New York.
Jürgen Klinsmann called Ream into the USMNT camp for his first game in charge, a 1-1 draw with Mexico on Wednesday, August 10. For Klinsmann, Ream could and looks likely to be the kind of center back National Team defense needs. To play the kind of possession and attacking game that Klinsmann has tried to install, will require center backs with composure on the ball and an ability to pass the ball instead of hoofing long balls out of the back. Ream can do that, but he still has plenty of areas to work on, mainly his physical play and confidence in a challenge.
Before an important MLS Eastern Conference game against the Revolution, Ream took some time before the game to talk about his experience with Klinsmann, his continued growth and what he’s learned by playing next to Mexico’s captain Rafa Marquez in the Red Bull defense.
KCKRS: What were your first impressions of Klinsmann?
Tim Ream: He’s a great coach. He’s got a very positive outlook and he’s very encouraging with all the players. He just brings a good attitude and personality all around, and that’s something I think a lot of guys are going to respond to.
KCKRS: What are the differences between Bradley and Klinsmann?
Ream: Again, the positive approach. He doesn’t want guys to dwell on mistakes and worry about things that have happened. He’s always focused on the next play and helping each other out, helping the guys around you out and playing for each other and for the guy next to you — that’s the biggest thing. The positive attitude and the excitement, his personality is just different.
KCKRS: What did you think of Klinsman’s goal celebration?
Ream: It was good. He was real excited, which, again, is part of his personality. He’s happy to be the coach and excited and gets up and celebrates as much as the team does, which is good.
KCKRS: Have you looked back at any of the games he’s played or looked back at what he’s done?
Ream: I have not. I’m sure a lot of guys have but obviously the player he was and what he did and how good he was. I will definitely have to go back and look at what he’s done in the past.
KCRKS: How often do you talk with Klinsmann?
Ream: Pretty much just the week prior to camp, when I get into camp. I haven’t talked to him since the last camp was over — it’s pretty much just the week of the camps.
KCKRS: Did he tell you anything he wanted you to work on while playing for the New York Red Bulls?
Ream: It’s the same things that I identified, and the Red Bull coaching staff identified, being more physical and even more confident, continuing to be fit and just playing the way I’m capable of playing and not make mistakes.
KCKRS: How do you think you’ve progressed in the year and a half you’ve been in the MLS?
Ream: You learn more as the years go on. Only being a professional for just over a year and a half now, I’ve progressed. I learned a lot last year and now things are coming a long this year not as fast as last year. There are always things to learn and I continue to learn from playing next to Rafa [Marquez]. There are still aspects I need to learn and I’m doing that every day.
KCKRS: What has Rafa Marquez helped you with?
Ream: The biggest thing is positioning — the way he positions himself and wins tackles and communicates is the biggest thing for me at this point. I think he can be physical and he wins a lot of challenges and that’s something I need to pick up on and do more of. But I think the biggest thing is positioning — where to be and when to be and how to be in certain areas when time arises.