Scally is a key player in the German Bundesliga, appointed for the first time in the United States
Kingston The newest US national team player feels just right.
As former high school classmates prepare for their Thanksgiving break in college freshman classes, 18-year-old defender Joe Scully could make his debut as a reserve in the World Cup qualifiers Tuesday night in Jamaica. To prepare, he spoke before training camp with midfielder Gianluca Bosio, a friend of the 2019 USA Under-17 team.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, everyone is young. Everyone has the same things you’re talking about. You don’t have an older man with children, Scully said Monday. “You have a lot of similar traits.”
Scully’s rise from Sachem North High School in Lake Grove, New York was meteoric. He signed with New York City in Major League Soccer on March 15, 2018, and is the second youngest professional player in American football after Freddy Addo with DC United at the age of 14 in 2004.
Scully made his debut on June 6 in the US Open Cup match and New York City announced in November 2019 that Scully would be sold to Borussia Moenchengladbach after the 2020 season, once he turned 18. 2020 – just the beginning of one of them – and he heads to Germany for a new life and new tasks, like doing his own laundry.
A right-footed player, Scully started at left-back in the German Gladbach Cup opener in Kaiserslautern on August 9 with Rami Bensbini’s thigh injury, and made his Bundesliga debut four days later – against star-studded Bayern Munich, winner of six European titles and 31 German League Championship.
“I definitely felt like a little kid who just got off an island on my own, very nervous, especially because it was against Bayern Munich,” said Scully.
Sally impressed Adi Hutter so much that when Benspini returned, he transferred the American coach to the right-back. Scully, not aged 19 until December 31, has started all 10 Bundesliga matches for Mönchengladbach and two German Cup matches, including the 5-0 win over Bayern Munich, the most goals against a Bavarian side in nine years.
“This has never happened to a club as big as them, the best in the world,” said Scully. “Everyone was full of confidence and just wanted to play the next game ready, just because you beat Bayern 5-0, you want to see what you can do with the next opponent.”
USA coach Greg Berhalter called Scully about 15 minutes before announcing his roster for Group Two of the playoffs on September 29 to let Scully “it’s really close.”
“Even when I heard I was close to being nominated, it gave me a lot of confidence going into next week of training, and the next game, I think it was against Wolfsburg when I scored,” said Scully.
A few weeks later, Berhalter’s name appeared on Scally’s mobile again, this time with an invitation to report to Cincinnati for the third set of playoffs.
New players are slowly being integrated. Scully did not wear Friday’s 2-0 win over Mexico and will not start against the Reggie Boyz. He’s in line to join Sergiño Dest, who can play on both sides, right back DeAndre Yedlin and left back Antonee Robinson in an outdoor defender pool that also features Reggie Cannon on the right and Sam Vines on the left.
“What is most impressive is his age and that he can compete at this level,” Berhalter said. “I think he will be a major contributor to what we do in the future.”
With playtime, Scully gained confidence.
“You gain the confidence of the players in your team, so now you feel like you’re a regular and that’s what you’re doing and you just need to keep performing,” he said. “I definitely think my speed of play and my defensive position have improved a lot because these are little things that you have to do to keep playing every week.”
The United States brings together a fresh new look this fall that includes striker Riccardo Pepe, midfielder Gio Reina and defender Jorge Bello and Posio and Scully, teammates of the U-17 team just two years ago. Scally talks to Reyna almost every day.
“Everyone is very close in age, so everyone has similar traits and certainly everyone is like family,” Scully said. “We’re all from the States, we all know each other in some way, whether we play in the same league and yes, everyone comes to the US team, it’s like a brotherhood and everyone takes you under your wing when you’re someone new.”
Last summer, Scully had to go home before returning to pre-season. He was able to participate in normal teenage activities, such as attending his high school graduation and prom parties.
“It was fun to feel like a kid again,” he said.
For Tim Weah, who, at 21, is the ninth youngest player on this year’s roster, Scully is like a veteran.
“Scully has a beard,” said Weah, laughing.
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