FRISCO, Texas– Prior to the U-20 World Cup, FC Dallas midfielder Brandon Servania had only played in one match for the senior side, making his debut during a 2-1 road loss to the Philadelphia Union on April 7.
His place in the starting lineup was difficult to find. A full strength FC Dallas team had to start midfielder Carlos Gruezo alongside Bryan Acosta and Paxton Pomykal. Homegrown Edwin Cerrillo also earned coach Luchi Gonzalez’s trust and began playing during big matches.
With Gruezo’s sale to FC Augsburg, a hole was presented in the starting lineup. When Servania’s name was listed during Dallas’ 3-0 win over Toronto FC on June 23, it was a surprise to some for a player who had only played two minutes in 2019. However, Servania has begun to repay Gonzalez’s trust with his play, completing 90% or more of his passes in his last three matches, according to Wyscout.
“I’m just feeling confident right now and hopefully, I can continue to just keep working, keeping my head down and staying focused,” Servania told Pro Soccer USA. “Hopefully, I can continue helping this team forward into the playoffs and win a trophy at the end of the season.”
It was a strong U-20 World Cup for Servania, who played in four matches with the United States. Starting in three, Servania was deployed as a No. 8, either pairing with SC Freiburg midfielder Alex Mendez or FC Dallas teammate Paxton Pomykal and sitting in front of D.C. United midfielder Chris Durkin. However, during the team’s 3-2 victory over France, Servania played a deeper role, playing behind Pomykal and Richie Ledezma.
“Those are some world class players that are in that tournament,” Servania said. “I think playing there and us having a good run with the U.S. gave me confidence coming back and I just [kept] the momentum going when I got back to Dallas.”
At the beginning of the season, FC Dallas ran a duel eights system, with Pomykal and Acosta playing higher up and Gruezo a bit deeper. Gonzalez explained Servania’s role, calling him a No. 6 in defense, but a No. 8 with possession.
“He’s always kind of in that 6/8 role,” Gonzalez told Pro Soccer USA. “I think he has matured. He’s learned to know his role with or without the ball for the team. He’s very technical, he moves it well and he’s good on the dribble. He’s been dangerous n some shots outside. He’s in a good moment and players can have a good moment but he’s becoming a professional in terms of making a career out of this.
“It’s more of a double six,” Servania said. “Me and Acosta in the [D.C. United] game, we can kinda play off of each other. When he’s going forward, I’m holding a little bit more. When I feel like I can be going forward, then he’s holding for me. I think it works well defensively. When we’re attacking, we can just read each other.”
Even though he did not play early on for MLS, minutes with USL League One side North Texas SC helped him stay fit. There is a difference between MLS play and League One action, forcing Servania to adjust to the pace of play.
“All the guys, even the guys who aren’t starting, consistently are ready,” Servania said. “We’re all confident, we all believe in each other and even though I wasn’t starting at the beginning of the season, I think my teammates have the confidence in me and help me get into the flow of things. I was able to stay fit with those USL minutes, but MLS is obviously different. I think I’ve adjusted to it pretty smoothly and hopefully can just, continue.”
Gonzalez is enjoying what he is seeing out of the 20-year-old, who is showing once again that Dallas’ academy pipeline has players ready to compete.
“He’s maturing, even when he wasn’t playing,” Gonzalez said. “He didn’t give up, he didn’t stop supporting the team, stop being a good human being, which are all values from him and his family. He has a great mentality to fight for this team. I’m really happy to see him contributing and getting the minutes he’s getting right now.”