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SBI MLS Spotlight: Servania rising to challenge in breakout MLS season

FC Dallas is one of several teams currently jam-packed in the MLS Western Conference playoff race, but one of the few contenders competing with the help of a plethora homegrown players. Luchi Gonzalez’s first season in charge figured to have its growing pains, but the team’s young core has risen to the challenge, and one of the key contributors has been Brandon Servania.

In the midst of a breakout season that started slowly, but skyrocketed after an impressive showing at the Under-20 World Cup, Servania has established himself as a regular starter for FC Dallas in recent months, turning in strong games and earning a place in the latest U.S. Under-23 national team camp.

“Getting minutes with the first team has definitely helped and I’ve seen improvement within my own game,” Servania told SBI. “I think it’s going well, I’ve gotten more comfortable including the speed of play within the games. Just got to keep working and keep progressing if I want to get to the next level.”

“Goals for this season was to push and earn as many minutes as possible. Being able to have a bigger role for the team has been important. The game against Minnesota was huge because I came off the bench and was able to make an impact. I was fortunate to score a pair of goals and it’s a good feeling now to look back and see where I’ve come from and where I am now. Everybody has been a huge help to me, my coaches and teammates. Hopefully there will be more goals to come this season.”

Adept at playing as either a defensive midfielder or box-to-box midfielder, Servania has used his versatility well this season. Since returning from the Under-20 World Cup, Servania has started in 10 of FC Dallas’ 13 matches, appearing in each of them, a stretch that has seen FC Dallas post a 6-4-3 record and hold onto the seventh and final playoff spot in the West.

Despite Gonzalez stepping in for former head coach Oscar Pareja, the goal for the club has stayed the same. Younger players have been given the opportunity to get on the field and earn minutes, with the playoff race adding even more experience to the list. Servania is one of nine first-team players under the age 22 who has seen league minutes, a strategy by Gonzalez which will only continue to grow confidence in those players.

“When Luchi was named the head coach I was definitely excited because he was in charge of the U-16’s when I was playing with them,” Servania said. “Just knowing what he expects from me and my role for the team, it gives me confidence to get on the field and help perform. He knows the potential that all of us younger players have. The fact that the coaching staff believes in us is great. We want to provide belief to them as well that we can come in everyday and do our jobs.”

“Taking steps forward in my development is a goal of mine for the rest of the season. With the team we know we are fighting for a playoff spot, but we aren’t content with where are just yet. For me I have to stay hungry and push everyone around me. I need to improve on a few things and try to help this group get to the postseason.”

Servania is one of several former U.S. Under-20 players who are now on the rise through the ranks of U.S. Soccer. Pomykal, his former U-20 teammate, earned his first senior call-up to the USMNT for September friendlies, while Servania has been included in the recent U.S. Under-23 camp. Both played under U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos in Poland and Servania credits both his former coach and Pomykal for helping him continue to be comfortable on the domestic and international stages.

“I feel more comfortable right now, I base that on the chemistry I have with the group of players we have,” Servania said. “Tab had a big role to play in that as well. Playing at the U-20 World Cup and being in that atmosphere helped me a lot. I wasn’t getting too many looks before that, but I was able to get to Poland and earn some minutes against quality opponents. Coming back with that confidence is what I wanted to achieve and I think I have been doing that.

“I’ve known Paxton for a few years now and I think since we’ve been on the first team together, we’ve had some similar experiences. Not getting too many minutes in the beginning, but since then we’ve been working to get in front of the guys to get on the field. Definitely having someone going through the same reps is a huge benefit. It’s great to see us both rising through the ranks and we just have to keep it going now.”

FC Dallas currently holds a three point advantage over last season’s defending Western Conference champs, the Portland Timbers for seventh place. The team has six matches left with two coming against teams currently above the red line (Seattle, NYCFC).

“It’s super close in the West so every point matters at this point of the season,” Servania said. “We have a really good group and whenever we’re hungry we are a force to be reckoned with. We have to look at every match as a final for the remainder of the season. If we do that, then we can contend for MLS Cup.”


    • Ditto. Well said.
      You look at a team like Minnesota this year and Seattle in the past. Living on Ozzie Alonso being able to make everyone comfortable going forward, knowing you are covered in the back at holding mid.
      The flip sides of that. Not being comfortable pressing forward or pressing forward foolishly while being weak in the back ( like Toronto the last two years ) resulted in the Sounders not being able to win without him for years and being one of the best teams with him.

  1. I’m hoping that one or more of the kids…Servania, Pomykal, Scott, etc… finally allow the Sr. USMNT to move on from Bradley and the failed experiment of Trapp.
    Personally I’d use Adams & McKennie as the starters in a 4-2-3-1, and groom a couple guys as long term back-ups….Servania, Canouse, Durkin…or Veterans as short term backups Williams, Morales, K. Acosta, Roldan, Canouse.

    There is enough talent emerging at RB & LB to put an end to the stupid Hybrid RB discussion and move towards a formation that best fits our player pool. Add in the CM (8’s like Pomykal, & Parker) and there is no reason not to use Adams & McKennie as the shield with the authority to get forwards as opportunity presents itself.
    This would allow the use of more attack minded outside backs (no more Ream) and free up Pulisic, Weah/Boyd. They can focus more on high pressing the opponents backline knowing McKennie & Adams are behind them to cover the ground.

    I see this as the fastest way to move on from Bradley (who doesn’t have the legs any more), and Trapp (who was never up to the international level).

    • I just want to see more of our top youth players going to Europe, especially Championship League teams. If they progress enough, the rest will take care of itself.


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