The Bundesliga roars back into action with a mouthwatering Friday-night encounter between Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach, and for versatile American full-back Joe Scally, the game represents a chance for the Foals to keep their recent good run against the defending champions going.
Scally, who only turned 19 on New Year's Eve and this month marks the one-year anniversary of joining Gladbach, made a notable debut against Bayern in this season's curtain raiser at Borussia-Park, an enthralling game that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Adi Hütter's side subsequently dumped the holders out of the DFB Cup following a 5-0 thrashing in October. However, four defeats in their last five Bundesliga games have seen the Foals fall into an unwanted slide, something Scally says they want to arrest with their return to action this weekend.
Watch: Gladbach and Bayern on opening night
"We've already shown what we can do against them twice this season," the New Yorker told the FohlenPodcast. "We've tied one and we've won another; we now want to go [to Munich] and we want to turn our season around. In the first game of the next half of the season we want to show the fans that we're not going to give up and that we're here to fight."
Scally's happy memories of facing Bayern stretch back even further to when he agreed to move to the Bundesliga from New York City FC. Sitting in Borussia-Park on 7 December 2019, the American looked on enthralled as Gladbach claimed a dramatic, 2-1 injury-time triumph, with Ramy Bensebaini netting an all-important double.
"I came and watched that game against Bayern when Ramy scored the two goals," Scally said. "It was amazing when I saw that. It was a great game to come to. [Seeing that] gives you more confidence but of course makes you a little nervous too. You're there thinking 'this team is great, am I ready for this level? Can I do this?' But then, once you are with the team on the field, you realise that everything is all good."
Featuring in all 17 of Borussia's Bundesliga games so far this season, things have been more than just 'all good,' for the modest Scally. His club's leading tackler - with 164 challenges won - the American is also leading the way in terms of sprints (440) and intensive runs (1,274), while he has unsurprisingly received high praise from coach Hütter as well as the likes of Germany legend and former USMNT coach Jürgen Klinsmann.
"It's been a great first year; I couldn't have dreamed of it being any better - unless, say, we had we won those last games in November and December," Scally said.
"When I first came here, everyone was just so welcoming and so loving and you could tell Borussia is a family. I could sense it when I first came with everyone helping me out. [Prior to signing], I knew of Gladbach because of the Champions League. They were there I think in 2015/16 and I think it was two years after that they contacted me, so I searched the stadium straight away. I saw the green and then all of the fans and I started watching the games more and I thought it was great. I love [Borussia] and I'll do anything for this club."
Scally became the 33rd US national to score in Germany's top-flight when he netted his first Bundesliga goal in a 3-1 win away to Wolfsburg on Matchday 7 while, not long afterwards, the full back was called up to the USMNT squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Mexico.
Watch: Scally, Gladbach's shooting US star
Yet to make his senior bow for Stars & Stripes, Scally certainly knows a thing or two about international football from his games at youth level. "To wear the US crest and be part of the national team, this is an unmatched feeling," he said. "Playing for your country and playing with pride: it's a different vibe in the locker room."
With distant goals of featuring for the States at this year's FIFA World Cup, the more immediate aim for Scally is to help Gladbach regain their early season form and, who knows, perhaps even win a trophy.
"We're still in the (DFB) Cup so hopefully we can with that," he said. "I want to keep playing in Europe, to keep playing at Gladbach and hopefully make the Champions League." What better place to to dare to dream than at the Allianz Arena, home of the champions and the stage where Borussia will look to reignite their season on Friday.