HARRISON, N.J. – There is a phenomenon in sports called the sophomore jinx.
Very few players come in and make an impact in Year One as the adjustment from playing in college or even high school is profound. From an increased standard of play to the speed of the game, more travel and far more scrutiny, few rookies make a seamless transition.
But some do. And often, a rookie who excels in Year One will follow-up with a less-than-stellar Year Two. Too many times, the player will end up pushing too hard and the end product is less quality on the field.
Tim Ream is determined to avoid that fate.
“I don’t really think about letdowns,” Ream told MLSsoccer.com. “I got more questions about the rookie ‘wall’ that I was supposed to hit and now questions about a slump or a jinx in my second year. That’s for others to think and talk about, not me.”
The Red Bulls defender is coming off a rookie campaign that exceeded all expectations. He was a finalist for Rookie of the Year, a fulltime starter, and he has developed into one of the most reliable members of a team that won New York’s second-ever regular-season Eastern Conference title.
[inline_node:323111]Ream has also worked his way into the national team pool, making several appearances for Bob Bradley and earning a call-up for next week’s friendlies against Argentina and Paraguay.
He won’t allow himself to look as far ahead as the Gold Cup in June, though barring a drop in form or injury, he looks likely to be a part of that squad.
In fact, he’s just now beginning to look ahead to the season opener against Seattle this Saturday.
“I’m not concerned about my form this season or a drop in form," Ream said. "I feel prepared mentally and physically this year, even though I didn’t have a whole lot of time off during the offseason. I think coming into preseason, I was fully fit after my time with the national team, having had three weeks of very high-level training.”
After national team camp, Ream had a conversation with the Red Bulls coaching staff about his performance with an eye toward improving things he needed to learn. He acknowledges that this preseason has been “huge” for him, having been partnered in the center of the Red Bulls defense with Mexican national team captain Rafa Márquez.
The former Barcelona star has been a role model for Ream, and the young American is reaping the benefits of their center back partnership.
“It is incredible the amount of knowledge he has,” Ream said of Marquez. “They way he goes into tackles, picks and chooses his time to go in – the way he reads the game and distributes. It’s amazing to watch him and learn from him.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer