Joe Scally Relishing Bundesliga Opportunity

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DeFodi Images / Contributor

Every young professional soccer player will remember their first start, no matter how the performance was or the result went.

Joe Scally’s first career Bundesliga start will surely bring back memories after the American defender went head-to-head with German giants Bayern Munich to begin his life with the Borussia Monchengladbach first team. 

Scally made his second start for the German top flight club in a week, playing 90 minutes in a 1-1 opening day draw with Bayern Munich at Borussia Park.

The performance came just one week after the New York native made his competitive debut in Europe, starting in a 1-0 German Cup win over Kaiserslautern. 

It’s been a whirlwind of a year for Scally, who began 2021 with Gladbach’s Under-23 team before earning the chance to work with the first team squad during preseason camp. Now with a pair of first team starts under his belt, the sky is the limit for the former NYCFC academy player who is striving to continue the recent trend of successful American talent in Europe. 

“It helped me a lot to jump right into German Football and see the differences in the league,” Scally told ONE37pm. “It’s a lot of aggressive play and a lot of running and brings quicker pace, so jumping right into the Under-23’s certainly helped me get accustomed.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a major difference from the Under-23’s to the first team, because our U-23 team is very good,” Scally said. “The jump was quicker, but when you play with great players it makes it very easy for you. A lot of the squad has helped me out so much on and off the field, so it’s been an easy transition for me. The only difference has been playing as a left back as a right-footed player.”

Scally only made five senior appearances (four regular season, one playoff) with NYCFC in Major League Soccer before making the move to Gladbach in 2020. It didn’t take the right back long to force himself into the mix with the club’s Under-23 side, finishing his first season with 15 appearances, one goal scored, and over 1,200 minutes of competitive action under his belt. 

The 18-year-old was one of the top performers during preseason camp, working with long-time Bundesliga manager Adi Hutter, who took over for the departed Marco Rose this summer. Hutter rewarded Scally’s efforts with a start in the first round of the German Cup and stuck with him against Bayern Munich last weekend. 

Despite going up against some top talent, Scally neutralized German international Leroy Sane in his 90 minute shift and also impressed in one-on-one battles and with his defensive awareness. Scally credits the confidence received from his new manager and admits he has some things to improve on to stay as a starter this season.

“It’s been very good working with him,” Scally said of the 51-year-old Hutter. “He’s a very good manager and a very nice guy, who brings a lot of energy to the team. He’s helped us a lot with his new tactics as you could see in the first game. We’re really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together this season.

“I watched a lot of Dani Alves growing up as a right back, but now I need to watch more left backs to try and mimic what they do best,” Scally jokingly admitted about learning the left back position.

Scally isn’t the only former NYCFC player raising eyebrows in Germany and likely won’t be the last to grace the fields in Europe. 18-year-old Gio Reyna continues his rapid rise with rivals Borussia Dortmund, taking over the No. 7 jersey at Signal Iduna Park following Jadon Sancho’s move to Manchester United. 

Reyna has already featured in the Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League, German Cup, and with the U.S. men’s national team, and will be one of the names many USMNT fans expect on Gregg Berhalter’s roster this fall for the start of World Cup Qualifying. 

Scally’s close friendship with Reyna continues to grow overseas, even if they aren’t spending every training session together like in the NYCFC academy.

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Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

“From when we started playing as 10-year-olds, he was always a great player,” Scally said about Reyna. “And to see him now at Dortmund wearing the No. 7 after [Jadon] Sancho left, it’s just amazing because it shows what a great player he is and what he is going to become. He’s been my best friend for the play eight years now, so I am really happy for him and we try to still see each other once a week.”

With injured bodies coming back into the fold at Gladbach, Scally will hope to stay in Hutter’s starting lineup as the club continue the early stages of the new campaign. Up next for Gladbach is back-to-back road matches at Bayer Leverkusen and Union Berlin before returning home on September 12 vs. Arminia Bielefeld. 

Scally has already risen to the occasions in his first senior appearances for the club and overall is focused on helping the club contend for one of the top spots in the Bundesliga table. 

“The goals for me are to play as much as I can this season and I would love to win the league with this group of players,” Scally said. “I think we have a good squad here and we already have showed a lot of promise.”

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