EXCLUSIVE: Tim Ream signs for Fulham, USMNT defender says “it just felt right”

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EXCLUSIVE — After becoming the latest in a long line of U.S. internationals to sign for Fulham, central defender Tim Ream spoke exclusively to ProSoccerTalk about signing for the Cottagers.

Ream, 27, has signed a four-year deal with Fulham, and joins the Londoners from fellow Championship team Bolton Wanderers after joining the Trotters from Major League Soccer in 2012.

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The former New York Red Bulls standout admitted it was a tough choice to leave Bolton, a club where he has been voted Player of the Season by their fans in each of the last two campaigns, but is excited to be joining Kit Symons’ team in west London.

“Mixed emotions is a good way to describe it,” Ream said. “When I left Bolton’s training ground on Thursday it was surreal. I spent the last three-and-a-half years there and it has been home. I’ve met a lot of good people and created a lot of good friendships. It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make but it is an exciting time.”

[ MORE: All of PST’s latest USMNT news ]

It’s been a crazy few days for Ream and his agent from Global Premier Management, Patrick McCabe, as they’ve been back and forth from Manchester to London on numerous occasions for medicals and to try and agree personal terms with two different teams. Last week it looked like he was going to sign for Queens Park Rangers, who have just been relegated from the Premier League. But at the last minute Fulham matched QPR’s bid to Bolton, and Ream headed to Fulham’s Motspur Park training ground to thrash out personal terms with the Cottagers after being close to signing for the R’s.

“Again, it was another tough decision,” explained Ream. “The biggest thing was that the guys who have come before me. The American guys. [Brian] McBride. [Carlos] Bocanegra. Clint Dempsey. Eddie Lewis. Kasey Keller. All of those guys, seeing how well they’ve done at this club and seeing the type of history they have created, it seemed like the right fit. Walking into the training ground, it just felt right.”

Ream’s agent, McCabe, had the following statement on his client’s deal, as the last-minute nature of Fulham’s interest made things pretty interesting right up until negotiations had concluded.

“QPR had been tracking Tim for some time and they had been diligent in making offers. Fulham had also expressed strong interest but took a little longer to formally make an offer. So we just were not sure how things would play out,” McCabe explained. “For weeks, it seemed like QPR was the only suitor and Tim would have been happy to join them. When Fulham entered the picture, we evaluated everything and Fulham seemed to be a better fit for his future. There is a strong owner with Mr Khan and a defined culture at the club where many American players have enjoyed the best years of their careers. We hope that Tim can continue that trend. Chris [Ramsey] and Les [Ferdinand] were eager to have him at QPR but Tim made his preference known and a deal was struck.”

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Ream and his agent Patrick McCabe have had a busy week finalizing his move to Fulham.

After bursting onto the scene with the Red Bulls and being a finalist for the 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year, Ream moved to Bolton in January 2012 when they were in the Premier League. However, after initially acquiting himself well in the PL, Bolton and Ream were relegated to the second-tier less than five months after he arrived in England.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

That’s exactly where the left-footed center back has been ever since, with Bolton struggling to survive in the Championship in recent years. However, after joining Fulham Ream hopes he can help them push back up to the Premier League following their relegation in 2014.

“We are bringing in quite a few players and really going for it,” Ream said. “In this league you do have to spend a little bit of money to put yourself near the top and give yourself a chance to be promoted. You can say that about all 24 teams, that promotion is the aim, but we are really pushing for it. Getting back to the Premier League is the biggest goal. Obviously I wanted to do that with Bolton but it wasn’t meant to be. To have an opportunity and a chance to be promoted back to the Premier League is the ultimate goal. I think this move to Fulham gives me the best opportunity to do that.”

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Ream in USMNT action.

In terms of how this move aligns with Fulham’s large fanbase in America due to past players such as Carlos Bocanegra, Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey all calling Craven Cottage home for long parts of their careers, Ream is proud to be joining an illustrious list of Americans who have plied their trade down by the banks of the River Thames.

“Knowing and watching Brian McBride most of all, playing at the same University as him at St. Louis, I really followed his career and watched him do so well here for so many years,” Ream said. “Then with Clint [Dempsey] and Carlos [Bocanegra] carrying that torch after him, it definitely swayed me in that aspect, knowing how much history Americans have at this club and a history of doing well. That was the tipping point.”

This season Ream will be lining up with fellow U.S. international and the captain of the U-20 national team this summer, Emerson Hyndman, while the home jersey he will be wearing has “Visit Florida” as the sponsor. Fulham’s owner is American, Shahid Khan, and the businessman who also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars has big plans for the Cottagers if they make it back to the promised land. As for the future, the USMNT player hopes to continue to get opportunities to play for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side and has earmarked the upcoming friendlies in Washington D.C. against Peru on Sept. 4 and against Brazil at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 8 as key chances to impress if called upon.

“It doesn’t change much, you have to be playing week in and week out at a decent level and performing to be called in and that’s what I’m going to do,” Ream said. “Obviously there’s a bonus of being a little better off promotion wise. It doesn’t change what type of player I am. Hopefully it puts me in a good spot to keep getting in squads.”

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Ream is excited to become the latest American to call Craven Cottage home.

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Ream also revealed that he had spoken with Klinsmann about a any potential move “a few months back” and that the preference of the U.S. national team coach was for him to stay in Europe, specifically in England.

The defender has a young family and after spending almost four years in northern England, they will now get to live in London. He’s looking forward to the experience of being back in a bustling city and the center of the soccer world in England, and perhaps the world. While for fans of Fulhamerica across the United States, Ream is heading home.

“It is really exciting. I mean London is London… you don’t have to describe it any other way, do you?” Ream laughed. “It is like New York, it is on that level. There is so much history down here with the city and then you throw on top of that all the history with the club. It is an exciting time to be here and hopefully I will be here for many, many years,”

MLS Snapshot: Minnesota edges Timbers; D.C. tops Atlanta… again

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The game in 100 words (or less): Abu Danladi scored the game-winner on Wednesday night but the rookie striker had about as interesting a six-minute run of play as anyone you’ll see this season. The Minnesota forward notched second goal of the year after the hour mark before being sent off minutes later for a nasty encounter with Sebastian Blanco, who was also dismissed. It was a back-and-forth affair all night, with both sides having their chance to land a punch or two but Adrian Heath’s team moves off the bottom of the Western Conference with their win.

Three four five moments that mattered

7′ — Okugo own goal hands Minnesota lead — Good things happen when you get crosses into dangerous areas, and this was a prime example.

37′ — Valeri buries from the PK spot — It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Diego Valeri doesn’t convert this honestly…

47′ — Ramirez continues to be a goalscoring machine — Yeah, that’s right. Nine goals on the year now for Christian Ramirez. Looks like this guy is going to be just fine in MLS.

50′ — Another own goal… — Francisco Calvo is the unfortunate recipient of this own goal, but again, dangerous crosses pay off.

Man of the match: 

Goalscorers: Amobi Okugo (OG – 7′), Diego Valeri (PK – 37′), Christian Ramirez (47′), Francisco Calvo (OG- 50′), Abu Danladi (64′)


The game in 100 words (or less): For all the things that have gone wrong for D.C. United this season, Ben Olson’s side has actually played well against Atlanta United. That continued again on Wednesday night as D.C. picked up its fifth win of the season behind goals from Luciano Acosta and Patrick Nyarko. Atlanta went ahead inside the opening 20 minutes when Yamil Asad set up Julian Gressel, who tapped home for the visitors. From there, Atlanta had a tough time of it capitalizing on their chances.

Three moments that mattered

17′ — Visitors leave D.C. in the dust for the opener — They make this look so easy… By the way, that’s nine assists on the season for Yamil Asad, who leads the league in that category.

23′ — Acosta equalizes for D.C. — Really sloppy play out of the back from the visitors, and Luciano Acosta made Atlanta pay with his fourth goal of the season.

60′ — Slow to react, Nyarko makes Atlanta pay — That’s some volley from Patrick Nyarko, but where’s the defending from Tyrone Mears? 2-1 D.C.

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Man of the match: Patrick Nyarko

Goalscorers: Julian Gressel (17′), Luciano Acosta (23′), Patrick Nyarko (60′)

Juventus confirms Dani Alves will be released, opens path to Man City

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Pep Guardiola could be one step closer to reuniting with one of his former pupils at Barcelona, and the Manchester City manager has Juventus to thank for that.

[ MORE: Bayern says clubs “risk FIFA punishment” for pursuing Lewandowski ]

The reigning Serie A champions confirmed on Wednesday that the club will release outside back Dani Alves, clearing the veteran defender’s path to join Man City this summer or another club.

“We’re not talking about a breakdown in the relationship, it’s motivation that is fundamental for players,” said Juventus chief executive Beppe Marotta.

“Alves has realised he has a desire to try a new experience, so we’re trying to reach a mutual termination of his contract and we wish him good luck.

“There’s certainly sadness because of what’s been said, but I can confirm there’s been no breakdown in our relationship.”

Alves signed a two-year contract with Juve last summer after previously playing for Barcelona since 2008, however, the winners of six consecutive Italian titles are willing to let the Brazilian walk away without acquiring a transfer fee.

Man City appears to be the preferred destination for Alves, who turned 34 in May.

PL champions Chelsea have also been linked to Alves’ services, but it’s more likely that the right back will reconnect with Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.

Bayern says clubs “risk FIFA punishment” for approaching Lewandowski

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Two Premier League giants are reportedly in the market for Robert Lewandowski, however, his current club isn’t having any of it.

[ MORE: Mexico tops New Zealand behind comeback second-half effort ]

Bayern Munich has threatened repercussions from FIFA after Chelsea and Manchester United reportedly made contact with Lewandowski’s camp recently over a possible move to England.

[ MORE: Ronaldo goal lifts Portugal past Russia ]

The 28-year-old goalscorer is said to be displeasured with the Bundesliga champions after having a falling out with manager Carlo Ancelotti towards the end of the 2016/17 season.

Despite the alleged uncertainty between player and manager though, Bayern has no intentions of allowing their prized striker to leave.

Below is the statement released by Bayern to Sky Deutschland on Wednesday amid the speculation.

“Robert Lewandowski is under contract at Bayern and only recently renewed his deal until 2021. Bayern Munich waste no thought on a Lewandowski move.

“There are no talks with other clubs, and there won’t be any. If other clubs negotiate with players who are under long-term contracts, they risk FIFA punishment. The agent also confirmed to us that he has not held any contract talks.”

While Bayern would clearly be losing a key asset if Lewandowski were to exit this summer, Chelsea and United are two clubs certainly in the market for a striker.

The reigning PL champions are expected to cut ties with Diego Costa in the lead up to the 2017/18 campaign after the Spaniard showed a text message exchange with manager Antonio Conte displaying the Italian’s disinterest in bringing back the striker.

Meanwhile, United released Zlatan Ibrahimovic after this past season following a devastating ACL injury that he suffered in April.

Raiola: Ibrahimovic attracting interest from MLS, Serie A

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Despite coming off an ACL injury, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is showing no signs of ending his long and successful career.

[ MORE: NYCFC makes 16-year-old Sands first Homegrown signing ]

And according to his agent, Mino Raiola, the Swedish striker has offers from both MLS and Serie A sides.

The LA Galaxy have been strongly linked to Ibrahimovic, who was recently let go of by Manchester United after just one season in England.

The logistics of signing a player of Ibra’s caliber are still uncertain though as the Galaxy currently have three Designated Players under contract, and bringing in the star forward would surely require significant wages.

“Many clubs are interested in Ibrahimovic; from MLS in the USA, but also in Italy would be possible,” Raiola said. “Napoli? Everything is possible, but I think Napoli will not be his next club.”

One club that Raiola did rule out for Ibra’s services though is third-place side from a season ago in Italy; Napoli.

The 35-year-old Ibrahimovic missed the end of the 2016/17 Premier League season for United after suffering the knee injury during the club’s UEFA Europa League win over Anderlecht.

Prior to his injury last season, Ibrahimovic notched 28 goals across all competitions for Jose Mourinho’s side, proving just how potent a striker he still is after 18 professional seasons.