Joe Scally is entering his 2nd full season in the Bundesliga with Borussia Mönchengladbach, and with this season comes higher aspirations and expectations. The 19-year-old right back has goals of playing well enough to be one of the 26 names called when Gregg Berhalter announces the USMNT roster for the 2022 World Cup on November 9th. To do that, he knows he has to take his game to the next level.
Last week, Scally took some time ahead of ‘Gladbach’s big matchup against Bayern Munich to answer questions from a roundtable of reporters on life in the Bundesliga, how his game is progressing, and his goal to make the World Cup roster. He even speaks on the potential matchup he could have with a fellow teammate next month should he get called into the USMNT.
Speaking on his emergence at ‘Gladbach and the experience he’s gained over the past year, Scally said, “I’m more experienced, I have played a full season now, I understand the league, the teams, and how everything works, So I feel a lot more comfortable in the field....I’ve stayed the same same...grounded, very humble. I’m not one of those guys that goes out or buys something crazy just because because i’m playing. I’m the the same person I’ve been.”
His play for ‘Gladbach this year eventually gave him an opportunity to showcase his talent on the United States Men’s National Team, and he knew it was a chance to leave a great impression. USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter brought him into camp for November 2021 World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Jamaica, but he did not see the field in that camp. He was with the team in June as they played a couple of friendlies and then began their defense of the Concacaf Nations League, making his debut against Morocco and also appearing against Uruguay.
“I was very focused and and ready. I kept preparing for it, because I knew I had to show myself. I didn’t play my best best game against Uruguay, but it happens. Training was good. So you know, I’m. I’m focused right now on on the club. So for September. I hope I’m called in. Hopefully I’ve deserved it, and the last camp I I’ve showed it.”
That focus on making the national team roster as well as playing regularly in the Bundesliga lineup directed Scally’s approach to the offseason. “I think I took two weeks just to really relax and everything. But, I would say last year my attacking game was was really good in the back five and the defense side. My positioning was was not perfect, but I think this year now, back at my position [of right back]...I’m hoping just to combine those two with working on my defensive side.”
The grind of last year has also affected his approach to this season, as he mentioned that last year he covered a lot of distance and logged a ton of minutes while playing left back. So, he knew he had to “keep my body fresh” in an effort to be ready to play so many matches. Scally also said he “realized the importance of recovery and, you know, eating well” and has attributed that to his success to start the year.
He has also moved back to his natural role of right back after a season of playing primarily on the left side. He said the opportunity he received in his first season let his coaches see his “versatility.” Because of that, even though he’s back at right back, he’s still open to playing both positions. “[Wherever] the coach needs me, I’m going to play.”
Making his debut on the USMNT last year meant trying to fit in with a young core of players who are also playing the role of veterans as one of the youngest national teams in the world prepares for a World Cup. However, while many players entering the national team picture would encounter some growing pains as they worked to integrate into the team, Scally didn’t have that experience. “Let me tell you, it’s the easiest thing I’ve I’ve ever done,” Scally remarked. “I was able to to slip right in and and become friends with everyone, and they were all outgoing and nice, and there to help you.” The 19-year-old said he fit right in with a young group that were in a “similar age group” and had “similar life experiences.”
Joe Scally also discussed his relationship with new ‘Gladbach manager Daniel Farke, who came to the club in June:
“He’s a great coach, you know. Lucky for me, he coached Norwich [City], so he speaks perfect English. And so, even if my German on one day isn’t so good, he could always speak English to me, which is nice. But, he’s a great coach and gives the team so much confidence, and from preseason until now we haven’t lost a game. You know, we changed our philosophy a little bit building up through the center, which is something new for us. So, it’s working really well with the players we have, and and he’s always there to help every player. If it’s a mistake, he corrects us, and you know he’s honest with us, which is what we all need, and that’s what we we love in the coach.
Because Farke is a man that can converse with the locker room in English, one of the biggest difficulties that Scally has to overcome is improving his German. To his credit, Scally mentioned that he’s trying to find creative ways to practice.
It’s getting better. I have class two times a week, for an hour and a half. Of course, it’s difficult. I need to do it more on my own and talk to the teammates more in German. The whole team knows English, it’s easy to just speak to them in English, but it doesn’t help me when i’m speaking English the whole time, and then German [only] two times a week in class. I just need to get more confident in my German, like when I go to a grocery store or something to just try it and not ask them right away if they speak English. So, it’s getting better, but yeah, it’s definitely really hard.”
With all his aspirations and goals for this season, the next one is one that he is reminded of everyday: making the USMNT roster for the September window, which includes a match against Japan at the Merkur Spiel-Arena in Düsseldorf, just a short ride from his apartment. In that match, he could be lining up opposite his ‘Gladbach teammate, Ko Itakura. He expressed how cool it would be to make the roster and play in that match and that the trash talk with his teammate has begun.
“Yeah, of course [the trash talk has] started...Ko is a a really great guy, He’s a really great defender, and on our way to the training grounds, we we pass [the Merkur Spiel-Arena] every time, because it’s over a bridge that we travel. It’s funny that the the stadium we’re playing in is ten minutes from both our apartments. So, you know we’re gonna have some of [our Mönchengladbach] teammates there, some of the coaching staff. So the trash talk has has started, and we’ll see who comes out on top.”
Finally, Scally had some advice for some of the players who have recently moved to the Bundesliga that have had a few more growing pains with playing time and integrating into their teams than he did:
“We’re all still young. We’re all still still learning the game, gaining more experience, and we just need to keep proving ourselves every day. We can’t take anything for granted, so the minute we get that one chance to go on the field, we need to give everything to show the team, to show the coach that we deserve to be there, we deserve to play and [we can] help the team. Just every moment, show what you can do.”
Joe Scally and Borussia Mönchengladbach are back in action this Sunday when they host Mainz 05 at Borussia-Park. After 4 matches, ‘Gladbach currently sit in 6th place in the Bundesliga table despite not yet losing a match. As Gregg Berhalter and his staff begin to head to Europe to scout players ahead of the announcement of the September USMNT roster, Scally will have yet another opportunity to show that he can be a dependable option for Berhalter as we approach the World Cup.