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Joe Scally impresses in Moenchengladbach first-team debut


You can add Joe Scally’s name to the list of promising American right back prospects, with the former New York City FC academy product taking a major step with German Bundesliga club Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Scally made a successful first-team debut on Monday, starting and impressing in Moenchengladbach’s 1-0 DFB Pokal win vs. Kaiserslautern.

A natural right back by trade, Scally started at left back in place of injured starter Ramy Bensebaini and put in a strong 90-minute shift. The 19-year-old won seven duels and contributed five interceptions and four recoveries while completing 29 of 38 passes and drawing a yellow card.

Scally earned the start ahead of Andreas Poulsen, who recently rejoined Moenchengladbach following a loan, and ahead of 18-year-old prospect Luca Netz. Moenchengladbach manager Adi Hütter has spoken highly of Scally’s play during preseason and the decision to start Scally in the DFB Pokal is a clear sign the young American has played his way into the mix for playing time.

Scally is enjoying a rapid rise after having just arrived at Moenchengladbach in January. The former NYCFC fullback had only made one previous professional start, nearly a year ago with NYCFC, but he has enjoyed a smooth transition to the Bundesliga club, making 12 appearances with Moenchengladbach’s reserve team last season. He has seen regular playing time throughout the preseason, starting in four straight friendlies prior to the DFB Pokal opener.

Bensebaini’s injury status has opened the door for Scally to potentially start in Moenchengladbach’s Bundesliga opener against Bayern Munich on Friday. With Austrian standout Stefan Lainer entrenched as Moenchengladbach’s first-choice right back, Scally’s best chance for minutes will be deputizing for the injured Bensebaini, though he is sure to face stiff competition from the highly-rated Netz, as well as Poulsen, as the season goes on.

Scally joins a long list of promising young American right back prospects that includes Sergiño Dest, Bryan Reynolds, Julian Araujo, Aaron Herrera and Kyle Duncan, as well as veterans such as DeAndre Yedlin, Shaq Moore and Reggie Cannon.


  1. The modern game is about left backs and right backs bombing up and down the wings….period! It’s how Liverpool won champions league and the Premier League, Barcelona and Spain dominated for years and how Bayern Munich, France and Germany dominated., Italy’s best player in Euro 2020 was a left back(Spinazolla). These players are athletic, skilled and fast(Davies).

  2. Happy for the kid. If he’s able to fill in (at times) at LB it just improves his opportunities of seeing 1st team minutes. With 1st team experience he’ll improve his chances of earning the coaches trust at the club level….which should open the door for him with the USMNT.
    LB is often one of the hardest positions for a team to fill. If Scally can fill in at the position in a pinch it just increases his usefulness to a coach. Especially in a tournament type setting where you’re limited to the number of players you can call.
    Not saying he leaps right into USMNT conversation, but 1st team minutes in 1st division of Germany is better than minutes for 2nd division clubs in England & Spain. With Dest, Cannon, Moore, Reynolds & Scally as options at RB for the next 6 to 8 years….and with Dest (possibly Scally) able to pitch in at LB, it gives us more options/freedom in the roster if we continue to struggle to find viable LB options.

    • Scally won’t magically factor into the USMNT left back convo because he’s seeing emergency looks at left back for Moenchengladbach. It still comes down to profiles, and Berhalter is going to either want someone left-footed at left back, or someone with elite level dynamic attacking quality at left back to be a threat getting forward and cut inside in lieu of being able to provide consistent service from the left (like a Dest).

      Scally is a solid defender, and can do that job in at left back for Moenchengladbach, but it comes at the sacrifice of his attacking contributions. That can fly with his club team when it has an injury situation, but I don’t really seeing it being an option for the USMNT. All that said, if he sees steady minutes in the Bundesliga at the age of 18 over time, he’ll get a look from Berhalter, only at right back (though qualifiers aren’t really when you want to be testing out young defenders who have never been in the squad).

      Robinson and Dest are the top left back options right now, with Sam Vines adding depth, while youngsters George Bello, Kobe Hernandez-Foster and Kevin Paredes have serious talent to make big leaps up the chart in the next year or two.

      • Ives, what position do you think Paredes ends up playing? DCU has been using him as one of the front 3 lately with Mora or Najar behind him.

      • While I agree he won’t magically start seeing minutes for the USMNT at LB…his ability to fill in at LB does raise his value in a tournament situation.
        If Scally continues his good run of form at the club level w/ Moenchengladbach, you’d have to believe he’d be in line for Qualifying camps (not games) for a closer look by Gregg & his coaches. While Cannon & Yedlin have the edge (experience) in the RB back-up battle, I wouldn’t say that Scally is so far behind that he can’t force his way into the conversation.
        Especially if he continues to perform like he did against Bayern.

    • Very true, however in Germany they typically play their first team players in cup matches as both teams did yesterday because the German schedule is not as dense as other countries. That being said he only started because the starter was hurt but expected back this week or next. Kaiserslautern hasn’t been good in 20 years but at least it’s a club with a real stadium and some fans.

    • This is true, but as I state in the article, Scally started four straight friendlies before that Cup match, and has been getting high praise throughout preseason, so he IS showing something, and the fact he started Monday head of two other highly-regarded young fullbacks on the squad says he’s doing well for himself. Nobody’s calling the guy Dani Alves, but to be 18 and potentially getting to start in the Bundesliga as a fullback is pretty impressive.

    • He started in Olympic qualifying ahead of Araujo and chosen ahead of Duncan, so he’s pretty well-regarded in the USMNT system. I personally prefer Duncan and Araujo but trashing the guy because he’s not a teenager seems a bit much. He’s a year older than Sam Vines, who just made the move to Europe, same age as DeJuan Jones, who is drawing Bundesliga interest, so not sure you can just write him off completely.

      All that said, given what’s in the pipeline, Herrera probably won’t get to the USMNT, but he’s worth a mention when discussing the depth.

      • Ives the depth at RB is full of young talent. The fact that Herrera was given the nod in an MLS heavy failed U-23 squad doesn’t count for much when…
        Dest, Cannon, Reynolds, & Scally are all younger and playing at a higher level than Herrera. Not writing Herrera off, but he is fairly far down the pecking order.

  3. While I only saw about 20 minutes of the game he sure looked good with some pinpoint crosses. The negative was that he seems to lack speed. In a particular play he ran back to clear an attacking forward pass and while he started at least 3 steps ahead of the attacker he almost lost the ball.

  4. Obviously I’m biased as a Red Bulls fan when I say this but…


    What a joke franchise.

    • He missed must of 2019 with a hip injury and then Covid took the first half of 2020 and Joe had already signed to leave in Jan so why give him a ton of time developing when he’s not going to be with you and his fee is already set (2 million for an Academy player was pretty good).

  5. Great! Get him some more game time at left back and maybe we’ll have another option on our hands. Left-back and central striker are probably the two positions that are the most doable for a player currently outside of the pool to put themselves in contention for, and since ‘Gladbach are playing with a four-man back line, Scally could potentially build himself a niche as a solid “left back that is not a wingback” option.

    Let’s see how the season goes. I’m optimistic that there will be some breakthroughs. (I’m also expecting to see Folarin Balogun break through at Arsenal.)

    • i suggested we could play some of our RB at LB — as i did in college — and people giggled at my expense. it’s not striker vs back, it’s can you use your other leg to pass and tackle. most pros are two footed. the obsession with footedness for backs tends to be fans who pick defenders for offense.

      • I agree with you and I’d like to point out that it is a simple question of math. Assuming footedness is the same as handedness (which is almost always true), only about 10% of people are left handed. Thus, it figures that there are going to be a lot more left back positions than there are left footed defenders. I consider the relatively recent emphasis on having only left footed players play on the left seems incredibly short sighted to me. As you say, a decent pro should be just about equal in ability with both feet.

      • Naw bruh! I ain’t buying this narrative you keep pushing, imperative. In today’s game, what fullbacks play defense? Or are even good at it? I’ll name 15 RBs of the top, Kimmich, TAA( Liverpool), Carvajal, Azpueliqueta (Chelsea lol), Walker (Man City), Sergio Roberto, Wan-Bissaka, Hakimi, Meunièr, Leo Dubois, Trippier, Dest, Dani Alves (if he’s not your top 15, your not paying attention), Jesus Navas (Sevilla), and Florenzi. All of these players are DEFENDERS. Walker & Wan-Bissaka are the most athletic and use that athleticism to stop attacks, cover the CBs but aren’t particularly good at crossing and scoring goals. The Spaniards & Portuguese are possession based but get burnt by athleticism every time. The English, French, & Germans want their RBs to get up the pitch, cross & score. None of these players are left footed playing on the right.

      • IV and Gary if we’re talking about U19s or high schools even colleges yeah a left footed LB is a luxury. Even in a professional club you might need to use a right footed player as a LB especially in the short term as Scally did yesterday because of injury. A NT team has a big enough pool to find a left footed LB. Unfortunately IV modern day FBs have to get upfield and be involved in the offense, and need to be able to cross the ball effectively. Especially with Pulisic as our LW who likes to tuck inside the LB is going to be wide and either hit crosses or diagonals behind the defense from deeper. Can a professional do a job sure Lichaj, Chandler, Fabian J all played on both sides at one point or another but they were certainly better on their natural sides.

      • Hold up, wait a minute!! Gary Page has spent a lot of time telling the rest of us, we don’t know more than the coaches, when in defense of Zardes. Now, Page is saying majority of the coaches in the top 5 leagues are shortsighted?! For putting left footed players on the left side of the defense? (Klopp, Guardiola, Tuchel, Pochettino, Zidane). The tactics came from Europe, jeez! It’s the US that’s always late. You guys are making Gen X look Kreis bad! How many left footed players do y’all know? IV and Gary, y’all don’t have to upgrade your thinking, your choice, your prerogative. This is not the 90s or early 2000s, no sport is played the same as it was 20 years ago. This grumpy old man, get off my lawn stuff is contradicting and real redundant. #Askthe10%#GenX

      • actually didn’t we just watch italy limit the risks its backs took? you’re trying to call me “old” and say i don’t understand the “modern” game. you then in other contexts talk up europe. guess what style won europe. exactly. not the freewheeling stuff. italy ate the swashbucklers alive. false premise. i have no doubt many in the follower mob are pursuing your ideas but i am pimping what wins.

    • IV: After they lost Spinazzola, they get their LB deeper but up until then he was one of the players of the tournament bombing down the left. Florenzi was very active getting forward as the RB before being injured and subbed out at half of match day 1. Italy were left with only 3 FBs for the tournament which might explain why they became more cautious as the tournament wore on. Only had two healthy FBs for the semis with Florenzi in an emergency. The whole point of Mancini was to get past the whole catenaccio defend first style.

      • by that you mean they team-pressed instead of team-sat-back-tackled-everything-moving. because they were still like Juve in the sense of not committing large numbers forward. they depended on a few attackers to be efficient with the balls they got. you’re trying to create some false picture of a bunch of overlapping numbers up bombing forward that has nothing to do with what i saw watching every single euro game they played.

      • i also find amusing any criticism of the italians’ old ways after all the trophies. the idea seems to be to rip on what has been previously successful, in favor of some theoretical future, without any proof of concept, by saying the game has changed and past is null. you still win by scoring more than you allow and italy gave up very little. my general impression is the snobs don’t care enough how many we allow because they tend to be clockwork orange aesthetes hoping that the changes of fashion have made their tactical ideas competitive again. several teams send home from the euros seemed to think they could just outscore people 5-3 or 3-2 if need be. the final ended up being the two tightest defenses among the good teams. perhaps learn from that.

      • Italy hasn’t gotten out of the group stage at the WC since 2006 and like us they didn’t qualify last time. During that time they made one Euro final but didn’t get passed the quarters in the others. I’m not criticizing the traditional Italian defense first style, the Italian’s were. That’s why they’ve adjusted their tactics. Your looking at results and saying oh that must be tactics, while ignoring a lot of it comes down to a top 3 keeper in the world and 2 WC CBs who’ve been playing together for both club and/or country for ten years.

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