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.

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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,”

Teammates appear to stop Marega leaving after racist slurs

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LIBSON, Portugal — FC Porto striker Moussa Marega, who tried to walk off the field after being the target of racist slurs from fans, faced apparent attempts Sunday by his own teammates and opposition players to prevent him from leaving.

Marega, who is black and from Mali, was visibly angered by monkey noises targeting him after he scored Porto’s second goal in a 2-1 win at Guimarães in the Portuguese football league.

But when Marega started to walk off the field, several players from both Porto and Guimarães appeared to argue with him. Porto coach Sérgio Conceição also went on the field and spoke with Marega.

It took Marega several minutes to leave the field when he was substituted.

Marega held his thumbs down at the crowd as he went into the tunnel to the changing rooms. The crowd responded with loud jeers.

The attitude of the other players has drawn criticism on social media.

“We are indignant with what has happened. Moussa was insulted from warmups (before kickoff),” Conceição said after the match.

“We are a family. One’s nationality, color, or height does not matter. We are human beings. We deserve respect and what happened was despicable.”

Marega received a yellow card following his goal in the 61st minute when he appeared to respond to the slurs by pointing at his skin and by picking up a seat that had been thrown on the pitch.

Timothy Weah returns to action with Lille after lengthy| absence

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Timothy Weah was back in action in Lille’s 2-1 loss to Marseille on Sunday after a 183-day absence.

The American attacker played the final 10 minutes of the defeat after being inactive since Lille’s second match of the season back in August 17 in which he suffered a “very bad hamstring tear“.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Weah arrived at Lille in June on a $12 million deal from Paris Saint-Germain, placing high expectations on the 19-year-old son of Ballon d’OR winner George Weah.

Since, however, the U.S. men’s national team player has had little activity with the French side, accumulating less than 100 minutes over a three-game stretch.

Lille manager Christophe Galtier will likely ease Weah’s way into the a starting role moving forward – which is largely contingent on his performances at practice and in official play.

Lille, who’ve accumulated 40 points in 25 matches, are currently fourth in Ligue 1.

WATCH: Ashley Young opens his Inter Milan account with volley

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The first English goalscorer in Serie A this decade is 34-year-old Ashley Young.

Inter Milan’s newly-integrated wingback opened his Serie A account in proper fashion – scoring with a first-time right-footed volley strike against a strong Lazio side.

Why did Manchester United let Young walk away from Old Trafford during the winter transfer window? Surely, Young will answer that in detail when the time is right. At this moment, he’s too busy scoring goals – stellar ones, too – as we can see for ourselves above.

Young arrived at Inter in January on a reported $2-million deal for the remainder of the season, with an option to extend for another season.

Arsenal laud star man Ceballos

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LONDON — Arsenal hammered Newcastle on Sunday and to make sure you have every angle covered for the marquee Premier League games, our new feature “In the Mixed Zone” will take you behind-the-scenes and into the tunnel areas to hear from the star players moments after their magic has decided games or drama has ensued.

[ MORE: In the Mixed Zone

The idea is to set the scene of being inside the tunnel area in Old Trafford, by the dugouts at Stamford Bridge and in the swanky new players area in Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium as Premier League stars walk out of the dressing room and break down the game with media members around the world. We will tell you what they are saying and the kind of antics going on amid the hubbub of the mixed zone as players from both teams have their say on the 90-plus minutes of action we’ve just witnessed.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Here’s the scene from deep inside the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal’s players were very willing to stop and chat after the 4-0 win but Newcastle’s players were not as Martn Dubravka and Valentino Lazaro were the only two who wanted to discuss the drubbing as the scoreline flattered Arsenal a little.


WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Arsenal center back David Luiz, looking toasty on a chilly London evening in his Rag and Bone beanie, was full of praise for central midfielder Dani Ceballos.

Asked by Pro Soccer Talk about the Spanish midfielder playing in a slightly deeper role and dominating the game with his slick passing, Luiz is clearly a fan of the man on loan from Real Madrid.

“He is a great player. He is a player who is improving and working very well every single day,” Luiz said. “I think this kind of mentality is what we need for the team. He started very well when he came, he got an injury, he went and came back, he lost his position, he lost a bit of game time. He was trying to improve his game and in the moment that he has the opportunity he shows that he is a great player, like he did today. I think this is the kind of mentality that we need in the team. Big teams who win titles don’t just depend on 11 players. We need more players who are always ready to help. Dani showed that today, even the boys who came into the game showed the right mentality. I think we are improving because of that and we are understanding what we need to be a big team.”

Arteta also waxed lyrical about the performance of Ceballos, who walked through the mixed zone wearing a Louis Vuitton backpack which was designed like a soccer ball. My goodness, it was awesome. Also, how much do we estimate that cost!? Anyway, here’s Mikel…

“Dani Ceballos is a good example. He was injured and when he started to train I didn’t think he was fit enough. He completely changed his behavior and trained like an animal. I thought he was the best player on the pitch,” Arteta said.

As Ceballos is pushing for a permanent move to Arsenal and a place in Spain’s EURO 2020 squad, expect plenty more displays like this.

Alexandre Lacazette also stopped for a chat and was very positive about Arsenal’s performance, while Bukayo Saka was also extremely happy with his display. Shkodran Mustafi and Bernd Leno weren’t keen to stop for a chat but that’s probably because they were heading off towards Highbury and Islington tube station to down a few pints…


ALL ABOARD THE BANTER BUS

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang walked out and had a chuckle as the media lined up to speak to Luiz and then said something to him in French. Auba didn’t stop, while Hector Bellerin and Lucas Torreira nodded as they headed towards the exit.


MIXEDZONEOLOGY

Newcastle’s players did the classic move of walking behind the sponsorship boards and out of the exit. Danny Rose, on loan at Newcastle from Spurs, was in and out of the tunnel area as he tried to keep a low profile. Clever boy.

Arsenal’s sporting director Edu said hello and looked pretty happy after that win. He emerged from the elevator a few minutes later wearing a red and white scarf around his neck. A proper club man.


HERO OF THE MIXED ZONE

Congrats to Martin Dubravka, he is actually one of the nicest blokes in the game. The Slovakian goalkeeper is the most worked goalkeeper in the PL, according to stats released over the weekend, and despite letting in four goals and not covering himself in glory for Ozil’s goal, Dubravka spoke to the press. We appreciate that.