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Tim Ream could be headed back to MLS soon

Would he be a fit for Atlanta United?

Fulham v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Fulham and United States defender Tim Ream is said to be considering a move back to Major League Soccer “sooner rather than later” according to MSG’s Kristian Dyer.

While the former New York Red Bull claims to be happy at Craven Cottage currently, he’s finding it hard to get first team minutes to begin this season in the English Championship. A transfer away from England and back to MLS could materialize if his standing on the depth chart doesn’t improve, according to the report.

Of course, any big name that is rumored to be coming to MLS will automatically be someone who Atlanta United supporters will wonder about. The club have seven contracted players and will be loading up on talent by any method possible between now and March.

Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra told Dirty South Soccer last week that the club will leave no stone unturned when evaluating possible additions for next season.

“We’re constantly assessing a variety of different players as we sculpt our roster for next season,” Bocanegra said. “That’s no different for the DP threshold, where we are just as active in identifying the type of impact player that will fit our system. We’ll make a move when the right opportunity for our club arises.”

If Tim Ream does return, he’d be subject to the MLS Allocation Order, a structured list of clubs to decide who has the rights to sign players who are forced to go through the Allocation Process.

Currently, the Chicago Fire are atop the list. They recently garnered quite a bit of assets in a trade with the Philadelphia Union when Alejandro Bedoya returned to the league. This is the same exact situation.

However, once this MLS season ends, the two expansion teams, Atlanta United and Minnesota United, will be placed atop the rankings. It is not known yet which expansion side will get the top spot.

In all likelihood, Ream would not be able to leave Fulham until the January transfer window opens at the earliest. Meaning, Minnesota or Atlanta will have that top spot if/when he does decide to return. That begs the question, is Tim Ream worth using that valuable spot on and would he fit Atlanta United?

Unfortunately, that question, from an outside perspective, is a very tough one to answer. Ream is a very specialized type of defender. He’s versatile in that he can play center-back or left-back, but he’s all about finesse and guile in his game. He’ll never be the type of player who can out-muscle the big strong strikers, but in possession and building from the back there is no one better in American soccer.

We have to assume Atlanta will have a manager hired and a playing style identified by January. Then, if Ream is the type of player they’re looking for, he’d make sense as a Targeted Allocation Money type of signing. I don’t believe any MLS club would be willing to offer him a Designated Player deal.

At 28 years old, Ream still has several prime years left. After spending the better part of five years in England, is he ready to come home? And if so, is Atlanta the club for him? If he decides to come back in January, it’ll be an interesting choice for whichever expansion team possesses the first slot in the Allocation Order.