John Brooks

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Arena should give Ream a look in Brooks’ absence

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With John Brooks out three months thanks to a horribly timed thigh injury, the United States yet again has to scramble to fill a void at the back. It’s not the first time an injury to Brooks has left the USMNT scrambling for cover at a thin position.

In the successful Gold Cup this past summer, with a largely domestic squad in place, Omar Gonzalez saw the bulk of the time at central defender, with Matt Besler his partner through the final two matches. However, with European-based players now in contention for spots with the early September international break, those two are unlikely to continue, at least not together.

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The most obvious choice to start September 1st against Costa Rica and likely shoo-in should he remain healthy for the next two weeks is Geoff Cameron. The 32-year-old has been back and forth between defense and midfield with club and country, and although he has publicly acknowledged his preference for a spot higher up the pitch, he was used in a back-three in Stoke City’s Premier League opener last weekend and is steadiest at the back.

But with a spot next to Cameron up for grabs in Brooks’ absence, a player who should get serious consideration is United States fill-in extraordinaire Tim Ream.

Ream has had to work hard to earn his place with the U.S., and while he’s seen time of late, he’s not been a first-choice pick. The 29-year-old has four caps so far in 2017, with two of those starts, including one in the impressive 1-1 draw against Mexico at the Azteca with the US still clawing its way back up the Hex standings. Even then, Ream would likely not have earned that spot had Arena not chosen to rotate nearly the entire squad between the pair of qualifiers in that window. His other start this year, the 1-1 draw at Panama, only came after Cameron pulled out of the squad the day of the game with a late injury. The last time Ream started back-to-back matches for the U.S. came back in 2015 when he was somewhat of a regular through the second half of the calendar year.

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But now, with Brooks out, Ream looks like the perfect man to fill in again. The 29-year-old defender finished last season in top form as Fulham narrowly missed out on promotion, earning the official website’s Man of the Match award in a May 2nd draw with Brentford, and won it again in the club’s final match of the season.

Without missing a beat, Ream has picked up where he left off last campaign in the first few matches this month. Last weekend against Reading at the Madjeski Stadium, Ream’s center-back partner Tomas Kalas was sent off 36 seconds into the match, forcing Fulham to play a man down for 89 minutes. Ream and company solidified the back, conceding just once in the 61st minute en route to a 1-1 draw.

The club still likely requires reinforcements at the CB position – Ream was forced to partner with right-back Denis Odoi against Reading with Kalas suspended and Michael Madl injured – meaning Ream could see an influx of competition in the coming weeks. However, as it stands, the American is far and away the best (and most improved) central defender on a club favored for promotion.

Gonzalez performed well in the Gold Cup, and Matt Besler was serviceable, but with few other options in the heart of defense to take Brooks’ place, Bruce Arena could yet again look to Ream for an in-form replacement.

USMNT’s John Brooks out three months with thigh injury

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Uh oh.

The U.S. men’s national team will have to do without center back John Brooks for their crucial upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers after his club side, Wolfbsurg, confirmed he ruptured tendons in his thigh in a German Cup game last weekend.

Brooks, 24, became the most-expensive U.S. player in history this summer after he joined Wolfsburg from Bundesliga rivals Hertha Berlin for $23.3 million but the German-American will now spend a considerable amount of time on the sidelines.

“John Anthony Brooks will be out for VfL Wolfsburg long term,” Wolfsburg said in a statement. “In the first round of the DFB Cup the American ruptured a tendon in his right front thigh at FC Eintracht Norderstedt. This resulted in in-depth investigations on Tuesday and Wednesday and it is expected that Brooks will be able to return to the team training in about three months.”

So, a huge blow for Bruce Arena who will now have to find a new partner for Geoff Cameron at the heart of the USA’s defense.

Tim Ream, Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez will be the frontrunners to slot into the back four, but Cameron and Steve Birnbaum struck up a good partnership in the past. Ream, who has had a fine start to the season with Fulham, would seem like the best option, especially with his ability to play as a left-sided center back.

Whatever way you slice it up, this isn’t great news for the USMNT ahead of their qualifiers against Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena on Sept. 1 and at Honduras on Sept. 5.

Wolfsburg’s John Brooks could miss Bundesliga opener

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BERLIN (AP) United States defender John Anthony Brooks injured his thigh in his competitive debut for Wolfsburg and could miss the Bundesliga club’s opener against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

Brooks went off in the 37th minute of Wolfsburg’s 1-0 win over fourth-tier club Eintracht Norderstedt in the German Cup.

Wolfsburg coach Andries Jonker says “we don’t have an exact diagnosis yet. … For the Dortmund game there’s still a question mark.”

Brooks joined Wolfsburg in the offseason for a reported fee of 20 million euros ($22.4 million) from Bundesliga rival Hertha in a record transfer for an American player.

Brooks scores as Wolfsburg downs Ream’s Fulham

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It was a battle of USMNT defenders as John Brooks took on Tim Ream in a London friendly at Craven Cottage, with the former coming out on top as Wolfsburg won 3-0. The US defender opened the scoring, while Mario Gomez put on the finishing touches with a brace late in the second half.

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Brooks took the early advantage as his looping header gave Wolfsburg the lead midway through the first half. The chance came on a set-piece as Daniel Davidi picked up the assist from his free-kick.

Ream started and was paired with Chelsea loanee Tomas Kalas for much of the match, until being substituted off with 79 minutes to go. Brooks also started, alongside 25-year-old Wolfsburg youth product Robin Knoche, and went the full 90 minutes.

Brooks joined Wolfsburg this summer for a $20 million fee, which is more than Fulham has ever spent on a player. The German club has looked good in preseason, with the club’s typical goalscoring flair looking to have returned, a season after narrowly avoiding relegation after losing its attacking touch.

Fulham’s defense, meanwhile, has been quite leaky all preseason, although Ream has not been in the lineup for much of it as manager Slavisa Jokanovic has looked to test out his other defensive options. They conceded a massive eight-goal total to Chelsea in a training session at Cobham, and then allowed a pair of goals in games against West Ham, Darmstadt, and now Wolfsburg.

Video: USMNT’s Brooks “very happy” to be at Wolfsburg

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Following a short summer break, John Brooks had a chance Wednesday to take a look at his new digs in Wolfsburg.

The German-American defender made a reported American-record $22.4 million transfer from Hertha Berlin to Wolfsburg this summer and enjoyed his first day at preseason training with Wolfsburg. The club posted his first interview, with the U.S. Men’s National Team centerback saying he was very happy to get started.

It’s the first time Brooks will play his club soccer away from his boyhood club, Hertha, and the change of scenery could be what the centerback needs to take his game to a new level.

Watch the video below.