NEW YORK – Tim Ream was a married man for all of 24 hours before he faced his first serious marital conundrum.
On Jan. 8, Ream’s phone rang. Bolton manager Owen Coyle was on the other end of the line, asking the newly hitched center back to risk domestic bliss for a dream move to the English Premier league.
And as upsetting as it was for Ream and his wife, Kristen, to cancel their honeymoon, eschewing the pristine beaches of Tahiti for rainy Manchester, it really was a no-brainer. They boarded a plane and sealed the deal over the next two weeks, making Ream the latest American to take the EPL plunge.
“You look back in a week and say that it was a good decision to not go [on our honeymoon],” Ream said in a conference call with reporters on Friday. “It will set us up for the future and what life holds for us, but it was a tough decision and a great opportunity that we jumped at and took. Just not the best timing.”
On the other hand, the timing of the move is pretty much ideal for Ream from a purely professional perspective.
After two seasons in New York – a rookie campaign that launched his US national team career and a sophomore season pockmarked by inconsistency and a few high-profile gaffes – Ream said he was ready for a new challenge. When Bolton expressed a desire to sign him permanently following a training stint in December – unlike West Brom, which proposed a loan arrangement – he jumped at the opportunity.
First and foremost, Ream will have the chance to hone his game playing with and against some of the best players in world soccer. And if playing abroad helps him solidify his standing with Jurgen Klinsmann as 2014 approaches, that would also be a welcome development, though not the overriding motivation behind the move.
“With the way things had gone this past year, I think [moving abroad] was definitely something that I wanted to do,” Ream said. “I don’t think it was so much to put me in line for the World Cup. It was more along the lines of thinking it was the next step in a natural progression for me to continue to improve and get better.”
Still, he did say that he had a few conversations with Klinsmann as the transfer developed and received nothing but encouragement from the US boss. He’ll also join fellow American and 2014 hopeful Stuart Holden at the club, playing under a manager in Coyle who has a well-documented respect for MLS.
Ream said one reason he felt so comfortable with the decision to join Wanderers, as opposed to West Brom or staying with the Red Bulls, was the degree to which Coyle and Bolton had scouted him and valued his attributes. That interest, along with the multimillion-dollar transfer fee Bolton stumped up, also helped in work permit process.
“He said he’d watched me close to 20 or 30 times on tape and live with the games he gets over there,” Ream said of Coyle. “It was definitely a good feeling knowing that they’d been following you for a long time.”
And although he is currently in New Jersey, Ream said Coyle was understandably eager to begin the process of working him into the first-team setup. Originally, Bolton wanted to have him available for an FA Cup match against Swansea City on Saturday, but that timeline was rendered moot by the necessary work-permit appeal.
Bolton’s next match comes on Feb. 1 against Arsenal and Ream’s former Red Bulls teammate Thierry Henry, one of the many players he said he’s observed in preparation for what is now officially the next step in his young career.
“In the past year-and-a-half, I’ve tried to soak up so much information from them – what they think, how they play and how they’ve gone about things through their career ,” Ream said, “fully anticipating that this move to a bigger league was going to happen.”