Borussia Mönchengladbach defender Joe Scally has had plenty to smile about since his Bundesliga breakthrough. - © DFL/Getty Images/Lukas Schulze
Borussia Mönchengladbach defender Joe Scally has had plenty to smile about since his Bundesliga breakthrough. - © DFL/Getty Images/Lukas Schulze
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Joe Scally on facing Gio Reyna in the Battle of the Borussias and a United 26 World Cup win

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From following in the footsteps of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and good friend Gio Reyna, Joe Scally has now himself become a role model for young American players coming to European football.

In an interview organised by the Bundesliga with journalists from around the world, the 19-year-old Borussia Mönchengladbach defender talked about his friendship with Reyna ahead of the Battle of the Borussias against Dortmund, the dream of winning a home FIFA World Cup with the USA in 2026, adapting to life in Germany and much more.

Scally on…

…his long friendship with Reyna:

“I would say we’ve known each other since we were about 12 years old. I think we both started at New York City FC, 12 or 13, so that's about six or seven years. Six years straight we've basically been best friends, so we go way back.”

…finally getting to play against each other in the Bundesliga after Reyna missed the Matchday 6 meeting between Gladbach and Dortmund:

“We missed out that first time back in October, to fight against each other. But we’ve been talking about it now for basically a year, since I came over to Germany. We’re ready for the jersey change after the game and everything. He was at my house two days ago, so we were just talking about it. Both our families are here because they’re also very close. It's going to be a really great game and really good to see each other on the field.”

Watch: Battle of the Borussias: Reyna vs. Scally

…the injury that saw Reyna miss around five months of action:

“I felt terrible for him. Everyone felt terrible for him, to be five months with a hamstring injury. We all knew he’d bounce back. He’s a great player. We’ve all seen his first month, he was up for Player of the Month, so I have no doubt that next month, this month, that if he comes back, that he’s going to be back to doing the exact same thing and better. It was good for him to go home, definitely. It’s always great to go home, so he’s going to be back and he’s going to be back playing great again.”

…Gladbach’s plan for him since joining in January 2021 after turning 18:

“When Gladbach told me the plan for me, they told me how they’ll go about this, how they’ll slowly integrate me get me used to it. And I thought it was the best place for me. And everything they’ve said has basically come true, so I have a lot of trust in the club and they have trust in me.”

…the trust shown in him by Gladbach coach Adi Hütter:

“He’s always said great things about me. He’s always given me a lot of confidence since the day pre-season started back in August, so I’ve not got any complaints. He’s an amazing coach, he’s a great coach. You’ve seen what he’s done in Frankfurt, so the whole team is behind him. We all trust in him and we’re going to get out of this situation that we’re in. And he’s been saying the same thing since the beginning of the season: just keep working hard.”

Watch: Scally – Gladbach’s shooting US star

…getting less playing time now after starting the season as an ever-present:

“Starting at the beginning, starting every game is amazing. You’re starting, you’re playing, you’re feeling happy and everything. When you don’t play, of course, it’s all the opposite. You’re not playing the same way, your confidence goes down, but I’ve been through this, basically two years in a row at New York City, where I just didn’t play for two years. But my family’s here, I’m staying confident, having good training sessions and yeah, it’s been going great.”

…how the season has gone for him personally and for Gladbach:

“I’ve been having a very good season, I’ve been starting and playing games and playing very well and, of course, I would like the team to win. That’s the most important thing for the team, to win. I feel like there were some times maybe I could’ve done more to help the team win but we’re still in a good position. Maybe we’re about six points off fifth place, so we’re not far behind and we’re definitely going to try and turn the season around with about 12-13 games left. There’s plenty of time.”

Watch: Scally scored his only Bundesliga goal against Wolfsburg

…his preferred position:

“I played a lot. I would say my favourite would have to be right wing-back. I think I feel more comfortable and confident on the right side, so that’s definitely my favourite. I have a lot of confidence in myself. I think I’ve proven a lot in this test season I played and in the season so far. I don’t see myself saying I want to play left-back because of this person or this person, or I want to play right-back because of this person so I mean wherever he [the coach] needs me, I’m going to play. I have a lot of confidence in myself to play either side.”

…learning from the more experienced Stefan Lainer and Ramy Bensebaini in his positions:

“Both these players are great players, both senior players who have a lot of experience, so to pick their brains a little bit and getting tips, it always helps. I did that back in New York with Anton Tinnerholm, who was ahead of me. I always like to pick the older guys’ brains because they’ve done it for years now and it’s paid off for them.”

…the Bundesliga being the league of choice for young Americans coming to Europe:

“It seems like a great pathway for American players and other young players to come over. I mean here in the Bundesliga they give young players the chance. If they make a mistake, it’s not like your career... You know you’ll get another chance. I think that’s been shown, that’s been proven and I mean American players, every single player who has come here has done well for himself and it’s different than when you go to Spain as a young player. I would say most people here know English so it’s a very helpful thing where the culture change is a lot but it’s not so much.”

Watch: NextGen USA in the Bundesliga

…the latest string of Americans to join the Bundesliga in January:

“I got to speak to two of them already with George Bello and [Ricardo] Pepi, and I play Kevin Paredes. I’m not so close to Kevin but of course I’ll get the chance to speak to him next week, in two weeks. But I told both of them the same thing: it takes time, of course it’s very hard, it’s sad leaving your family and it takes a mental toll on you, affects your performances a little bit. But you know, we’re all still very young, everyone’s 18 or 19 years old. It’s gonna take time. They have time to progress, and the teams are there to help them; I’m there to help them. All the other American guys, we’re basically all together. I just told them it’s going to take time.”

…the change in culture from the USA to Germany:

“The culture is of course very different to in New York and the US, so when I first came over it was a big change. I knew nothing about the language, no places to go, didn’t know anyone here, and now basically most people speak English. I live in a city called Düsseldorf where it’s very modern, people speak English. When I go to a restaurant. I have an English menu to order and everything. Definitely when I first came here it was like being thrown out in the middle of the ocean and now it’s going good. Now it’s easy.”

…being called up to the USMNT for the first time in November:

“When I was there, I felt like I fit in with the team. I felt good, close to everyone, so it’s nice to be back with the national team. I would say with the youth team it’s a different feeling when you put the crest on your chest, so that’s one thing. I would love to get back with the team. I always say the World Cup is far away but it’s really not, about eight months. So there’s only one more World Cup qualifying window, so the main thing still is to qualify, and we’re gonna be behind the team whether I’m nominated or not because the US deserves to be in the World Cup and needs to go far. We all know that, so I’ll be behind the team whether I’m in it or not.”

Scally has been called up to the USMNT by Gregg Berhalter but hasn’t represented the Stars and Stripes since U17 level. - imago images

…the USA’s hopes at their home World Cup in 2026:

“We have a bunch of great players. Anything could happen from now until 2026. It’s everyone’s dream to win the World Cup, and we’ll just have to see. Hopefully we do, hopefully we get the star above the badge, but you know, it’s a very hard thing to do and we’ll have to grind it out.”