Once the shy, quiet kid, Brandon Servania is learning that confidence is a state of mind. It’s led him to a break-out summer and caught the eye of U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Jason Kreis, who called the FC Dallas midfielder into the September Olympic Qualifying preparatory camp.
“The World Cup helped me with my confidence,” the 20-year Servania admitted to ussoccer.com while with the U-23 MNT in Chula Vista, Calif. “Playing against some guys that are already playing in top leagues in Europe, it showed me that I can play at that level and that when I returned to Dallas, that I shouldn’t be intimidated – to be confident in myself. I was able to bring that confidence and that hunger in being disappointed (with the Quartefinal loss) to Dallas to help the best I could.”
A member of FC Dallas’ U-16 team that won the 2016 U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Championship, Servania signed as a homegrown player with the Dallas first team in January 2018 after appearing in 20 games as a freshman for Wake Forest. He spent his first season on loan to USL League One side Tulsa, and then helped the U.S. qualify for the U-20 World Cup last November while earning tournament Best XI honors.
But after spending the 2019 preseason with the FC Dallas first team, Servania found himself playing the first part of the year with the club’s USL affiliate, North Texas SC. He wanted to make the World Cup roster, so there was no time to be disappointed.
“Tab (Ramos) had told us that it was better for guys to be getting minutes wherever we could, and playing with North Texas definitely helped me,” he noted. “Even though it wasn’t the first team, it was still good pro minutes and having game-fitness and rhythm definitely prepared me for playing in the World Cup.”
Servania played every minute of NTSC’s first four matches and earned a spot on the USA’s U-20 roster. He went on to score the USA’s first goal at the World Cup and appeared in four of the five matches on it’s run to the Quarterfinals.
He was a new player when he returned to Texas.
Having played all of two minutes in his MLS debut in April, Servania has played in all 13 FC Dallas games since returning (10 starts) and scored two goals. He also played in two Open Cup games and added another tally.
“I think we had a really good run as a team [at the U-20 World Cup in Poland], and I think everyone benefitted from that tournament. You see guys going to big clubs, and for me coming back and getting some first-team minutes has been great,” he said. “In training I was talking more, interacting more, communicating and asserting myself in the team, fighting and trying to prove that I should earn a spot.”
Besides his FC Dallas coaches, another coach that noticed Servania’s surge was Jason Kreis.
“This is a point that all players should be aware of: we’re watching all the time,” Kreis said. “The National Team scouting department, the coaches, the assistant coaches – we have regular conference calls about all the players in MLS, and so everything that they do every single week is being monitored. And also, when they play with the Under-20 team, that matters as well. That’s what flags those players and then we continue watching them over the weeks and months. And when they’re doing well and show that they can consistently do well, they’ll get opportunities.”
Servania is one of six players from the U.S. U-20 World Cup team among the 25 players at the U-23 camp as Kreis continues evaluating players with an eye towards March’s 2020 Olympic Qualifying tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico. The others are Mark McKenzie, Edwin Cerrilo, Chris Gloster, Alex Mendez and Sebastian Soto.“It’s an honor,” Servania said. “I’m excited and proud to be here, but I know that I have to keep working. In order for me to continue with this team and hopefully with the senior team in the future, I have to keep improving. Nothing is guaranteed. There are guys here that are two and three years older than us who have a lot of experience. It’s another step and hopefully I can help this team make it to the Olympics.”