Joe Scally: Is the American teenager Borussia Mönchengladbach's best player?


Despite being just 630 minutes into his Bundesliga career, Joe Scally is already being talked up as Borussia Mönchengladbach's best player.

"Joe's been here since January, has got used to Germany and has been playing incredibly well for seven games," Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl told Sport1 during the October international break.

"For me, he's our player of the season."

It's hard to disagree with the Gladbach boss.

Scally hasn't missed a kick for the Foals in the early part of 2021/22 - literally to a great extent, and most certainly metaphorically.

Seven rounds of fixtures into the new campaign, the teenaged full-back has won more challenges than any of his teammates (80). He ranks fourth among Bundesliga defenders for attacking contributions (nine), and sixth league-wide for both distance covered (49.7 miles) and intensive runs (512).

Playing every game from start to finish, he is fast becoming a Gladbach stalwart.

"It's a wonderful story," commented German footbal legend and former USMNT coach Jürgen Klinsmann following Scally's straight-in-at-the-deep-end debut against record champions Bayern Munich on Matchday 1.

"He didn’t do anything extraordinary. He did his job for the team. He played a very focused game."

Watch: Scally setting sights high with Gladbach

Staying on task is a Scally hall-mark.

“My mum played when she was younger, so right away her and my dad put me and my brother into soccer," he told bundesliga.com of his formative years.

"And I’ve always followed my brother’s footsteps, so when he started playing, I instantly wanted to play and it just went on from there.”

At a rate of knots.

Having joined the New York City FC academy at U13 level in 2015, barely three years had passed before Scally became the second youngest player in Major League Soccer history - after Freddy Adu - to sign a professional contract.

The American was already on the Gladbach radar at 16, but red tape put plans on hold for a further two years. He eventually made the switch upon turning 18 on 31 December 2020, five MLS and 31 US youth international appearances the richer.

Scally (r.) had already won US caps at U15, 16 and 17 level, when he joined Gladbach. - imago/ZUMA Press

It was worth the wait.

“It’s a great place for young Americans to come to develop their game," Scally said of his decision to follow in the footsteps of friend and former US youth teammate Gio Reyna, currently of Borussia Dortmund, by shipping out to the Bundesliga.

"Everyone who has come here so far has gone on to do great things, so I’m hoping I can just do that as well."

Gladbach coach Adi Hütter has put his full weight behind Scally. - imago

The long-term outlook is positive to say the least.

Although brought into the first-team fold to cover for injured left-back Ramy Bensebaini, Scally has become head coach Adi Hütter's first pick on his preferred right-hand side.

Along with goalkeeper Yann Sommer and central defender Nico Elvedi, he's one of only three Gladbach players to have completed all eight of the Rhineland club's competitive fixtures in 2021/22.

The New Yorker has also written his name into the history books alongside the likes of Reyna, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic as the 33rd US national to score in Germany's top-flight.

"He's 18 and has been here barely six months," said Hütter after Scally put the seal on Gladbach's 3-1 win at Wolfsburg on Bundesliga Matchday 7.

"He's young and full of optimism, and I'm delighted for him that he's scored his first Bundesliga goal at 18 years old."

Watch: Scally and the Bundesliga's youngest US goalscorers

No one expects Scally to suddenly become a regular goalscorer, but that's never stopped him before.

Gladbach's real American hero is scaling the career ladder faster than you can say 'Scally for the US Men's National Team!'.

At this rate, it'll be his next destination.

Chris Mayer-Lodge