AFTER missing out on one of the USA’s finest footballing hours, Tim Ream admits to feeling a tinge of jealousy during this summer’s World Cup.

As Jurgen Kilnsmann’s side beat the odds to qualify ahead of Portugal and Ghana in a tough group and then push tournament dark horses Belgium all the way to extra time in the knockout stages, the American team earned new fans at home and abroad with their plucky performances.

But for the Wanderers defender, who missed out on selection for the squad by a whisker after his best club season to date, the experience was hard to sum up.

“It was one of those bittersweet things,” he told The Bolton News.

“I was definitely bitter for a little bit but to see the way they played and how well they did to advance, I took pride from the fact I played with these guys. I know I can play there again too.”

Ream forced his way on to the fringes of the national team by transforming his fortunes at Wanderers.

At one point last summer he looked like being the next man out of the door as Dougie Freedman started to re-shape his defence.

But 12 months on the American looks to have cemented a starting spot alongside Matt Mills – another man to have come in from the cold – and now hopes to regain his international place in the future.

“I looked at the World Cup and do think I could have helped out some way or another and that’s always the target,” he said.

“Anyone should want to play for their national team. It’s a pride thing.

“To not be there after having what I, and hopefully others, consider to be a very good season was difficult.

“But I can only control what I do here and that’s what I intend to do for the next few years and hopefully that puts me in a good position.”

Support for the US team enjoyed an unprecedented boom during the summer. Such was the pride felt in the States that even President Barack Obama felt compelled to call two of the tournament’s heroes in keeper Tim Howard and captain Clint Dempsey to congratulate them.

Ream shared in that pride and was glad to see the progress that US football has made in recent years given some mass recognition.

“It’s funny, whenever a World Cup comes around just to see the support that the team has – not just from the people who are converted in the States, but you had people from all over the world saying ‘I’m a US fan today’ and that’s really neat,” he said.

“It has come a long way and there is obviously room to go. But to see the performances we put in, while not the most technically appeasing games you’ll ever see, we’re known for not giving up and continuing to fight and we showed that.

“Pulling off some of those results was great to see and it made me proud, no doubt about it.”