U.S. Soccer Twitter was abuzz on the first big day of the European soccer season after what fans saw in the opening Bundesliga match.
American Joe Scally, an 18-year-old right back who made just seven appearances while in Major League Soccer, started and shined for Borussia Monchengladbach against defending German champion Bayern Munich. It was his first start in the Bundesliga and he did the business against German internationals Leroy Sane and Thomas Muller, all while technically playing out of position at left back.
Scally even contended with the likes of Robert Lewandowski on a couple of occasions while playing the full 90 minutes in an entertaining 1-1 draw.
🇺🇸 Joe Scally (18) v. Bayern:
☑️ 90 min
🚀 4 clearances
❌ 3 interceptions
⚔️ 8 duels won
✈️ 2/2 aerial duels
🤼♂️ 2/2 tackles won
🔀 2/3 dribbles won
🎯 4/5 long balls
🦶 59 touches
👏 Kept Sané quiet
An absolutely impressive Bundesliga debut from the former NYCFC prospect. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/2sBJlhLOAV
— Football Wonderkids (@fbwonderkids) August 13, 2021
The Twitter crowd was ready to put Scally in the U.S. national team starting lineup after that effort.
Maybe the start shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise. Scally was in the starting XI for the club’s first official match of the season in Monday’s DFB Pokal German Cup victory against Kaiserslautern, and he was at left back for that one, too.
“It’s just wonderful. It’s a wonderful story,” former USMNT World Cup coach and German great Jurgen Klinsmann said postgame on ESPN. “And he played really well on top of that. He was very focused. He played a very concentrated game. He did nothing fancy. He did his job for the team.”
“We’re very happy. I thought it was a good team performance. Now we just build on that for the rest of the season,” Scally said in a Bundesliga flash interview. “The new coach [Adi Hutter] came in with some really good ideas. I think he’s a really good coach — what he did with Frankfurt last year. So I think we could have a great year this year. We want to win the cup, win the league and end in a Champions League spot, which is our goal every year.”
Joe Scally’s path to the Bundesliga
Scally has been in Germany for the past seven months since joining Monchengladbach in January 2021 after turning 18 — almost a year after the German club acquired him via transfer from New York City FC. He generally has been out of sight of fans during his time in Germany, but he showed his new coaches what he has by featuring for the club’s reserve team in the German fourth division.
The Long Island, N.Y., native has always been a precocious talent. He signed a pro contract with NYCFC as a 15-year-old in March 2018. He has been a member of the USA’s Under-15 and Under-17 national teams and played in the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup alongside compatriot and Bundesliga star Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund). Reyna always thought that Scally would excel in the Bundesliga:
18-year-old Joe Scally starts for Borussia Mönchengladbach today! 🇺🇸
He’ll be the third-youngest American to play in the Bundesliga.
🇺🇸 Gio Reyna (17 yrs, 66 days)
🇺🇸 Christian Pulisic (17-134)
🇺🇸 Joe Scally (18-225)
— Paul Carr (@PaulCarr) August 13, 2021
“Gio told me that the Bundesliga is a difficult league, but he also told me I shouldn’t have any problems with it,” Scally told Bundesliga.com this summer.
Borussia Monchengladbach made the move to lock up Scally in November 2019, shortly after the conclusion of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. The reported transfer fee at the time was $2 million. The deal was consummated only after Scally turned 18 when the calendar flipped to 2021 (he was born on Dec. 31).
Scally doesn’t have any caps for the U.S. senior national team just yet and he has plenty of competition at both right back (Sergino Dest, Reggie Cannon, Shaq Moore, DeAndre Yedlin) and left back (Sergino Dest, Antonee Robinson, Sam Vines, George Bello). The next potential opportunity for a call-up will come with September’s World Cup qualifiers.
There will be plenty more games this season for #USMNT Twitter to go wild over Scally, but fewer will be as high-profile as a debut against Bayern Munich. Here’s a sample of the reaction on social media:
The fact that Joe Scally never played left back until he got off the plane in Germany 8 months ago and has had the half he’s had against one of the best club teams in the world is kind of insane.
— Daniel (@DanielSmith1022) August 13, 2021
German commentator “Joe Scally is showing his teeth.”
— HalfSpaces (@blharreld) August 13, 2021
Joe Scally looking FANTASTIC for Monchengladbach. What a way to start his first team Bundesliga career.
— Ryan v.2021 (@ry3564) August 13, 2021
not sure who Scally really is but he is performing brilliantly right now, my current motm
— 𝓞𝔀𝓮𝓷🐝 (@OwennSZN) August 13, 2021
Robert Lewandowski just fouled Joe Scally after the latter took the ball from him.
The USMNT is winning the World Cup in 2026, I’m calling it now…lol
— SoccerDad (@WVSoccerdad) August 13, 2021
Joe Scally winning all his challenges.
— JD Redwine (@Redwine_13) August 13, 2021
4 years ago Joe Scally was preparing to start his freshman year of HS in Sachem North in Long Island. Today he’s simply shutting down Bayern Munich in his first start in the Bundesliga for Borussia Moenchengladbach. You’ll hear more of the name soon.
— Justin (@JustinLawGuy) August 13, 2021
Scally went from not being able to overcome Tinnerholm for NYCFC minutes to having the better of Sané in 15 months.
So yeah, we shouldn’t discount any youth prospects on entering & overcoming, no matter how deep we might be in a position.
— Tutul Rahman (@tutulismyname) August 13, 2021
Joe Scally is matched up with Leroy Sane.
Scally has been more threatening offensively and allowed Sane nothing so far. 👀
— HalfSpaces (@blharreld) August 13, 2021
Scally looks really impressive. Moves like Spinazzola
— Jason (@cooljasonsmooth) August 13, 2021
The first half for Joe Scally, 18, against Bayern Munich in his Bundesliga debut: 6/7 duels won, 2/2 in dribbling, 2/2 in tackling, 2 drawn fouls, 0 fouls committed
— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 13, 2021
Not sure if it’s because he’s a LB but I don’t think I’ve seen #USMNT Twitter be so unanimously excited for a debut like they’ve been for Scally
— Christopher Kerr (@kerrc17) August 13, 2021
Took 60 minutes against one of the best teams in the world, but Scally finally got schooled by Mane (still got a foot on the ball though). #USMNT
— Stephen Meyer (@StephenMeyerRDC) August 13, 2021
Scally is good lesson on young “unknown” players.
He played very little at NYCFC due to contract issues but gets to Gladbach, takes his time to acclimate to the higher level and now he’s pretty much a cemented squad player.
Technical skills + mentality will always prevail.
— SuperiorUSMNT (@EinSchwarzwelt) August 13, 2021