Since his arrival from MLS’s New York Red Bulls in late January, U.S. defender Tim Ream has quietly and quickly played his way into the starting lineup at Bolton, helping the club climb out of the relegation zone.
He’s played against both Chelsea and Manchester City in the past three months, as Wanderers have inched from 19th to 16th in the Premier League. But they’re still just one point above the drop, and that makes every game of the stretch run crucial—including this week’s match against visiting Fulham.
For Ream, the encounter has the added wrinkle of being the first time he’ll face fellow U.S. national teamer Clint Dempsey in a competitive game.
Dempsey is in the midst of arguably the greatest season ever by an American outfield player, with 13 Premier League goals and 19 across all competitions. (He also had one goal dubiously disallowed for rebounding in off the goalkeeper.)
Ream recently spoke to U.S. Soccer about tomorrow’s match, the adjustments he’s had to make to compete in the Premier League, and Fabrice Muamba. Below are some highlights. Click here for the entire interview.
On the primary differences between the Premier League and MLS:
“There are a couple. The biggest one is the talent all over the field at every position, no matter who you play. Obviously there are talented guys in MLS, but you don’t have the talent at every single position like you do here. You play the Man Citys and the Chelseas, they have a quality international player at every spot. That’s definitely a big difference. And then the speed of play. It’s different, but it’s not as crazy of a difference as most people would think. Physically, I’ve had to step that up another notch and continue to improve upon that because that’s what got me last year was not being physical enough. That’s something that I’ve learned and something that I continue to have to work on.”
On what it would mean for Ream and Bolton to shut down Dempsey tomorrow:
“It’s something that I’ve definitely thought about the last couple days. It’s not just going to be me. It’s going to take a real team effort to shut him down and to shut their team down. I’ll get a lot of pointers, even though I’ve played with him multiple times. The guys that play around me have played against him more and I think you learn more from playing against him and knowing what he does in the run of play than you do playing with him…. So I think it will be a big sense of pride if we can shut him down and shut the team down and come away with three points.”
On settling in so quickly with Bolton:
“Yeah [I feel good about it]. It’s hard for a player when you’re used to playing every game and then you come to a team and you don’t play. I’ve been very fortunate that in my time in New York I was able to step right in. Now coming here, I feel really good about my play and I feel great that I’ve been able to step in and contribute to the team and help us get out of relegation at the moment. I’m definitely happy, and a little bit surprised. But at the same time I know what I’m capable of, and I knew coming in here that I’d be able to help the team out and step in and help win games.”
Fox Soccer has the Bolton–Fulham match on tape-delay at 5:00 pm ET tomorrow.