UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. — Though it's common for a player who signs an MLS contract to know at least one player on the roster with whom he has played before, it's not often they were childhood teammates.
Red Bulls center back Tim Ream and left back Mike Jones played club ball together in middle school and high school, and with Jones signing with the team in late June, the two teenage teammates are reunited again.
“We’ve been friends for a while,” Jones told MLSsoccer.com. “[Ream] was a good player back then, and he was always a good friend and teammate, too. Even back then he was different then the other players on the field, and he was always serious off of it. He took his soccer seriously.”
Jones, who grew up near Ream in St. Peters, Mo., had a solid career at Southern Illinois University where he featured in 60 games. Taken in the Supplemental Draft by Sporting Kansas City, Jones was waived by the club before appearing as a guest player for the Columbus Crew in a reserve match against the Red Bulls.
Jones was spotted by assistant coach Mike Petke and signed shortly thereafter.
“I played pretty well in that game and I knew they might be looking for a player,” Jones said. "I was happy it all happened; it all happened so fast."
Then a few days later, on June 26 in the final moments of a 1-1 tie in Chicago, Jones ran onto the field to help the Red Bulls kill off a game with the Fire.
“I never thought I’d playing with the likes of Thierry Henry, a legend like him,” Jones said. “This is a great team and a team that I think can win it all, win the MLS Cup. I am really happy to be a part of it here and be a part of a great group of guys.”
For Jones, it means coming full circle and once again playing with Ream. Just like the old days, Jones is looking forward to being with his teammate and friend — and he'd better stay on Ream’s good side.
“Oh, I don’t have any stories to tell about Mike right now,” Ream said. “But let’s see what he ends up sharing about me, then I might have to give out some secrets.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer
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