While many markets contend for the title of “Soccer City, U.S.A.,” it’s hard to argue with St. Louis’s claim for the moniker. Seventy-six players from the Missouri hotbed have represented the United States on the international level in the men’s game.
Perhaps there’s no greater example of the St. Louis to USMNT pipeline than center back Tim Ream.
Ream is St. Louis through-and-through. Born in the “Gateway To The West,” the defender attended St. Dominic High School and honed his soccer skills with the storied St. Louis Scott Gallagher club before starring four years at St. Louis University. Thirteen years into a pro career that has spanned Major League Soccer, the English Premier League and English Championship, Ream boasts 51 USMNT caps and playing every minute for the U.S. at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Ahead of Saturday’s international friendly between the United States and Uzbekistan in St. Louis, the city’s place in U.S. Soccer history is not lost on Ream.
“The history of the game, the way that the youth programs and systems have been set up here for so long, the sport of soccer has always been a huge part of the fabric of the city,” Ream said of his hometown. “If you look at the number of St. Louis internationals, the number of St. Louis guys in professional environments, it’s just a product of the youth and coming through. [There are] incredible coaches around here, and the appetite is great for the game at the grassroots level propels players into good environments and good situations.”
Though Ream has represented the United States in St. Louis twice before in 2015 and 2019, those matches were played in Busch Stadium: home to Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals. Saturday’s match will be the first time Ream steps on the field at the downtown soccer-specific stadium, CITYPARK. The venue opened in late 2022 ahead of MLS expansion side St. Louis City SC’s inaugural 2023 season and served as a host to the USMNT during the Group Stage of the Concacaf Gold Cup in June.
Averaging an attendance of 22,423, CITYPARK has become one of the top atmospheres in MLS.
“To be able to come back and be able to play in an actual soccer stadium, a stadium built with purpose, built for the game and the club here – to be able to experience that is something that as a kid, you dream of,” Ream told media on Monday. “As a kid, you dream of playing in your hometown, in a soccer stadium, in front of fans, in front of family, in front of friends. It will be really cool.
“I’ve heard and seen incredible things about the experience and the fans, being able to train just across the street and see it in the distance, in the background, just made it that more exciting.”
The USMNT kicks off versus Uzbekistan at 5:30 PM ET on Saturday evening. The match will be broadcast on TNT, Telemundo, Universo and streaming on Peacock.