FRISCO, Texas — Brandon Servania’s role on the United States Under-20 national team is significantly different than on FC Dallas.
With Dallas, Servania has struggled to find the field with the strong battle for spots in the midfield, only making a substitute appearance in the team’s 2-1 loss against the Philadelphia Union on April 6.
For U-20 coach Tab Ramos, however, Servania is a vital part of the system. He was named to the Best XI for the 2018 Concacaf Qualifying tournament, playing in a more defensive role next to Freiburg’s Alex Mendez.
It’s a story of fit and role for Servania, who is taking his positions on each respective team with stride as he prepares for the U-20 World Cup in Poland later this week.
“I’m still trying to be focused and bring everything I can to both teams,” Servania told Pro Soccer USA in a phone interview. “Obviously, I did have a big role in qualifying, but I’m trying to keep the same mentality every week for Dallas: whenever my name is called, to be ready and to take the opportunity when I get it. It’s a little bit different, starting and coming off of the bench, but I think you have to go in with the same mentality and give it your all and help the team as much as you can.”
Much like his FC Dallas teammates Paxton Pomykal and Edwin Cerrillo, Servania has been the beneficiary of increased playing time, but not with the MLS side. Servania has played in four of the first six matches for North Texas Soccer Club, the club’s USL League One affiliate. Time with NTSC has allowed him to play more and remain fit, all while being an important part of coach Eric Quill’s midfield while continuing to train with the first team.
“Definitely,” Servania said when asked if playing with North Texas SC helped. “Obviously, the goal is to play for the first team, but when I’m not able to make the roster, it’s extremely helpful to get 90 with North Texas and to not only help me but to help that team. That’s going to help my development in the end and it’s just been really great so far.”
Quill has seen a lot of Servania and he believes Servania’s effort with NTSC helped Servania get the World Cup call.
“He’s had some ups and downs, maybe mentally or psychologically,” Quill said. “I thought that he came here and caught his stride and really started to see the benefit of the opportunity that North Texas provided him. I’m proud to show a kid that can play in the USL is starting for the men’s U-20 team. It goes a long to know that Brandon persevered and is hitting his stride now and confident.”
Dallas has the most number of players called up by Ramos with three on the 23-man roster. Counting Bayern Munich center back Chris Richards, the team’s academy has produced four players on the squad. The familiarity among the three will be there from the hours spent at training with each other.
“It feels good,” Servania said. “Having chemistry with those guys is going to show on the field and just playing with those guys every day in Dallas and coming all the way across the world in Poland and still being with those guys is pretty cool.”
“They’re just as excited as me,” Servania added. “They’re always happy for us getting opportunities like this and they knew it was going to help out development. Obviously, they’re going to miss having us being apart of the team but at the same time, they’re cheering for us to do well in this tournament and to show for ourselves.”
Now, Servania will be on the big stage, playing with more eyeballs on him than before. The U-20 World Cup can increase a player’s stock and is a sense of pride for players to represent their country. Those caveats can play a role in increased pressure.
“There’s a little bit of nerves,” Servania said. “It’s a really big stage. At the same time, we’re confident that we have a really good group. We have a lot of depth. I think we were confident, as we did well in Concacaf qualifying and hopefully we can keep that momentum going. We have a few more guys that weren’t even on that team so it makes it a little bit stronger and I think we’re ready. We’ve been training hard and all of us bring our separate experiences together, we’re going to do great.”
Servania hopes to capitalize on the strong qualifying with the U-20 squad and start for North Texas SC, hoping to gain experience in Poland and come back a better player for Dallas. But most importantly, he wants to lift the crown and show the world the talent the United States has.
“I’m just excited to see all the talent in our age group across the world,” Servania said. “Compare us to the best in the world and hopefully, we can show that we are the best in the world. I’me excited to see how far we can go. Hopefully we have the mentality that we can go and win it this time. Lifting that trophy would be amazing.”