USMNT youngsters Joe Scally and Kevin Paredes will face off as Borussia Mönchengladbach host Wolfsburg in Matchday 11's Friday opener (kick-off: 8.30pm CET). Here, bundesliga.com takes a look at the duo’s journeys so far.
The USA were defeated 3-1 by Germany during the previous international break, but it was a special occasion for Scally and Paredes, who both featured against the country where they ply their trade. Teammates on the night, they will instead be opponents at Borussia Park on Friday, and it has been quite the ride for both of them.
Gladbach’s Scally played the full 90 minutes of that international tie, which was his seventh and most recent cap. Becoming a regular member of the US national side has been his destiny ever since making his debut for New York City in 2018 as a 15-year-old, becoming the second youngest professional player in the States after Freddy Adu.
It wasn’t long before the full-back was attracting attention from across the Atlantic and, like many of his compatriots down the years, the Lake Grove-native decided the Bundesliga was the best footing for the next step of his career. Die Fohlen won the race for his signature, convincing him to put pen to paper in 2019 ahead of his 2020 switch.
Scally initially turned out for Gladbach’s second team, making 15 Regionalliga appearances during the 2020/21 campaign. However, it soon became clear that he was playing at a level beneath him and, as the 2021/22 term dawned, Gladbach had a fresh face in the first-team squad.
Given his lack of professional experience, especially in Europe, it was a surprise when he was included in the starting line-up for the DFB Cup first-round victory over Kaiserslautern. Even more so on the opening day of the Bundesliga campaign in the 1-1 draw with Bayern Munich, but Scally’s performances in both fixtures showed he could cut it at the highest level.
The American hasn’t looked back since, making 58 appearances across the past two full seasons and featuring in each top-flight clashes so far this term. He has three Gladbach goals to his name, including a late stunner to earn the North-Rhine Westphalia team a point versus Mainz a few weeks ago, and his star continues to rise.
Watch: Scally's sublime strike against Mainz
In April, his contract was extended until 2027, a further sign of the club’s belief in his ability. Sporting director Roland Virkus said upon the confirmation: “Joe has developed really well with us. He quickly made the transition from being a talented youngster in our under-23s to a regular for the first team, and even made the U.S. World Cup squad.
“This is a great example of the journey we want our promising youngsters signed from other clubs to take.”
While Paredes wasn’t making waves as early as his compatriot, he made his MLS debut shortly after his 18th birthday. A left-sided player who is comfortable either in defence or on the wing, it wasn’t long before he was a key player for D.C United, playing in 41 league matches across two seasons and scoring three goals.
Towards the start of the decade, Wolfsburg had a clear policy of delving into the American youth market in an attempt to unearth the latest talent. When Paredes was snapped up by Die Wölfe in January 2022, he was following in the footsteps of Ulysses Llanez, Michael Edwards, Bryang Kayo and Kobe Hernandez-Foster, all of whom had already made the move from the Land of the Free to the Autostadt.
None of that quartet made a senior appearance for the club, but Paredes’ fate proved to be different. On 9 April the same year, the Virginia-born ace made his debut in the 4-0 victory over Arminia Bielefeld, although he had to wait almost a year for his first goal, versus Werder Bremen in a 2-1 defeat.
Nailing down a regular starting spot has taken a lot of hard-work, but he has been a regular member of matchday squads and made 22 Bundesliga appearances during the 2022/23 term. Seven further outings have come his way this season, one of which, the 2-2 draw with Bremen, produced his second Wolfsburg strike.
Watch: Paredes scores as Wolfsburg draw with Bremen
His recent development has clearly been well received by USA coach Gregg Berhalter, as Paredes earned his maiden call-up in August before featuring against Oman and Germany. Wolfsburg boss Niko Kovač knows a thing or two about top talent, having enjoyed a succesful spell as a manager following a career that saw him play for the likes of Bayern, and was glowing in his appraisal of his prodigy after giving him his first Bundesliga start in the 2-2 draw with Bayer Leverkusen draw last term.
“He deserved it,” he said post-match. “He’s extraordinary in training and is a hard worker. Whenever he plays he gives his all in attack and in defence.”
For both Scally and Paredes, impressive work-rate and desire appear to be traits they share in common. After all, it is not easy to travel thousands of miles away from home without any guarantees, but the two have shown they have the fight and drive needed to make it in a competitive environment.
The pair will likely line-up in direct opposition on the same side of the pitch on Friday, which will make for appointment viewing back home and, regardless of the result, US fans can bask in the knowledge that two of their young guns are shining in the Bundesliga.
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