HARRISON, N.J. – Tim Ream might not know if he’ll be included on the US national team’s preliminary World Cup roster, but he’s doing his best to make sure he is fit and ready if he gets the call.
Ream paid a return visit to the New York Red Bulls on Thursday and Friday, training with the club in noncontact drills ahead of the team’s matchup on Saturday against the Chicago Fire (7 pm ET, MLS Live).
The 26-year-old defender is fresh off a strong season with English Championship side Bolton, and is clearly training with his former club to ensure he is still in shape and form in case US manager Jurgen Klinsmann includes him in the 30-man squad that will convene next week in Stanford, Calif.
“Anybody who plays this game from a young age, it’s a dream to play in the World Cup,” Ream said Friday. “Obviously, being a defender, you don’t think about scoring a winning goal, but I think everybody from a young age they think about scoring a goal, playing in a World Cup. I’m no different.
“It would be a huge honor to represent your country and play in a World Cup. I don’t think there would be too many other better feelings – other than having a baby – but it would be great.”
Ream, 26, said he has not heard from Klinsmann since being summoned to a brief camp in March ahead of a friendly vs. Ukraine, a call-up he ultimately turned down due to the birth of his first child.
Still, Ream knows there is a possibility of big things next week. He enjoyed a strong season with Bolton, starting and playing in 42 consecutive league matches across a number of positions en route to winning both the fans and club’s Player of the Year award.
“I was told through the grapevine, through multiple people, that [US Soccer has] had people out watching the games, but I couldn’t tell you what games specifically,” Ream said. “I just played like someone was watching every game, and hopefully that puts me in a good spot.”
It should. Ream could very well be a candidate to compete for a center-back spot on the World Cup roster, especially since his game and confidence have both grown in recent months.
“It’s just a matter of getting in a groove really and getting consistent playing time,” he said. “Finally, I was able to get that this year and, really, as I played more games, my confidence continued to grow. When you’re playing well, you continue to play well. If you have a couple of rough games, it starts to play on your mind a little bit.
“Really, in all honesty, I just tried to do exactly what I did my first year here in New York,” he said, “and that’s just forget about mistakes and just play the game.”
Ream appeared in 58 matches over his two seasons in New York after he was drafted in the second round of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. He signed a multi-year deal with Bolton in January 2012.
He has seven career US caps to his credit, the most recent one coming at Red Bull Arena back in October 2011, when he was at fault for a late goal that gave visiting Ecuador a 1-0 win.
“Whether I’m in or out, at this point, it’s not up to me anymore,” he said. “You’re always thinking about games coming up, and whether they be friendlies or qualifiers – now you have the camp and then the World Cup – obviously it’s on your mind.
“But again, I tried not to think about it much. You just play your game and hopefully everything else takes care of itself.”
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.