For seven straight matches, Tim Ream has been one of Bolton Wanderers' most consistent performers. The American has been putting in excellent appearance after excellent appearance since Dougie Freedman gave him the nod against Queens Park Rangers. He has been Bolton's Man of the Match or in the running for the honor in each of those matches and it's all because of a flight he took to Bosnia last month.
The United States Men's National Team had played a friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo in mid-August and Jurgen Klinsmann's roster included a number of familiar names. The squad included just two Major League Soccer players, far from the norm, to accommodate the heavily European contingent of US stars. Among the pair of MLSers were the likes of Tim Howard, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Jozy Altidore, and one Tim Ream. The last name on the list was a complete surprise.
On that day, the Americans walked out 4-3 winners on the back of a Jozy Altidore hat trick, having fought back well from an early Edin Dzeko goal. 17 Americans played in that match but Ream was not one of them, not that anyone had really expected him to be. For Tim Ream, the trip was one to boost his confidence, given that he had played just twice (once in the league and once in the Capital One Cup) between February of last season and the Bosnia-Herzegovina friendly that took place on the 14th of August.
Ream's inclusion was even more surprising due to the fact that he was not called into the US squad for any of the summer's Gold Cup competition, which had been designed by Jurgen Klinsmann to give fringe American players another chance. The Bolton defender's exclusion in that case had signaled that not only was Tim Ream on the outside looking in at the first choice United State's National Team but that he was outside looking in at the B-team.
Tim Ream was one of Jurgen Klinsmann's originals from when the current boss first took the US Soccer job back in July of 2011. He had played in Bob Bradley's final matches and had then featured in some of Klinsmann's earlier outings including a pair of 1-0 losses at home to Costa Rica and away to Belgium. He would make one more appearance that year before sitting the next year-and-a-half out entirely.
It's not at all a shock, of course, given Ream's performances in the 1.5 years since moving from Red Bull New York to Bolton Wanderers in January of 2012. He had played solidly enough to begin with given Owen Coyle's willingness to throw him straight to the lions but Ream was unspectacular in defense at best. As Bolton struggled, so did Tim Ream and the momentary lapses that he had become notorious for were punished with increased frequency. The fans got on his back and many had hoped that with every passing day of each transfer window, Bolton Wanderers would get rid. It didn't happen and it seems that the Trotters are much better for it.
For seven straight matches now, dating back to the August 24th home match against Queens Park Rangers, Tim Ream has come back into his own. The American is playing with clear confidence and putting in assured performance after assured performance. In short, he is making those aforementioned fans eat pounds and pounds of humble pie.
It is no coincidence that Ream's resurgence has come after the call into Jurgen Klinsmann's camp for the Bosnia-Herzegovina match. It is a tactic that the American boss had used in the past with fringe players. That friendly match was largely meaningless except in that it extended the United States' win streak to 12 straight matches, a number that it would ultimately end with the loss in Costa rica in the following match. Yet, despite the fact that the friendly did not have much of an impact in the grand scheme of things, it would mean everything for Tim Ream because ten days later, he would feature against Queens Park Rangers in his first league match this season.
Given Ream's performances on the whole over the last year-and-a-half, it is remarkable to see the player's transformation. Whether it warrants another call up to the national side for Tim Ream, especially one in a competitive fixture, remains to be seen. Unfortunately for the Bolton man, he is plying his trade in two parts of the field that the United States Men's National Team is already very deep in. At center back, he is behind Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Clarence Goodson, and Michael Orozco-Fiscal in the pecking order. At defensive midfield, the story is much the same with Ream on the outs behind Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman, Stu Holden (when fit), and more. With the World Cup quickly approaching and the US having already confirmed qualification, it seems that another call to the national side may be out of Tim Ream's grasp.
That's not saying that it would have happened anyway, given how Jurgen Klinsmann views the Championship. Players like Eric Lichaj, who plays in a position that the US are desperately short at, have not seen call ups despite good performances week in and week out.
With all of that said, Tim Ream has done incredibly well to not only fight for a spot but to also capitalize on a confidence boost. Long may it continue for the versatile American and who knows, maybe another US call will come soon.