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USA Today

Brandon Servania: How COVID-19 Has Changed My Perspective

FRISCOTexas - Do you remember your 21st birthday? 

I turned 21 on March 12. It started out as any typical work day would. I got up and came to my dream job at FC Dallas. I can barely put into words just how much it means for me to arrive at Toyota Stadium, meet up with my teammates and continue to play the beautiful game. The fact that I get to do that as a career is mind blowing.

We were preparing for our first road trip of the season — a trip to the Big Apple to face New York City FC. Having worked back from the MCL sprain I suffered in preseason, it was hopefully going to be my first match back in the 18. At the very least, I was at least going to travel with the boys and watch us go toe-to-toe with one of the league’s better sides. Having sat out our first couple of home matches, I was as anxious and motivated as ever to be involved again. 

But things changed in a matter of minutes that day. Marco Ferruzzi, our Director of Soccer Operations, informed us that Major League Soccer had suspended the season for at least 30 days. Our hearts sank. It wasn’t necessarily a shock to our system, but this was our way of life being stripped away without any real warning. 

Sadly, there are quite a lot of people around the world that are struggling far more than I am right now. However, I wanted to tell my side of the story. COVID-19 put the life I know so well into perspective. At the end of the day, we are all in this together.

To begin, I’ll admit I never pictured a future that looked like this when I first heard the news about a new coronavirus spreading in China. I think I started to realize it may affect our way of life when it started spreading quickly throughout Europe. In my young life, I have never experienced something quite like this. I’ve never known, apart from being injured, what life was like without soccer — or even sit-down restaurants, for that matter. The sport I hold so close to my heart has played a vital role in my life.

Those of you who know me best know that this past year has been a whirlwind time for me. In 2019, I began to find success with the FC Dallas first team and enjoyed my break out season. Not too long after, Gregg Berhalter called me with some unexpected news: I had earned my first National Team call-up. I boarded a flight to Florida and linked up with Reggie and Jesus, who were already involved in the January camp. That was a crazy time in my life. The memories I made will last a lifetime and I try my best not to take any of it for granted.

Immediately following the heartbreaking playoff loss to Seattle last season, each and every one of us worked harder than we ever had before. We were confident that 2020 was going to be a special ride. It was now our time to rewrite the club’s history and lift some silverware. Today, though, I’m only able to communicate with Luchi and my teammates over the phone. We can’t train together or even be in the same room with one another, which is tough. It still remains unclear just how long this will be the case. 

Anyone who's played team sports before understands that your teammates are like an extension to your family. We spend most of our time together, pushing each other to new limits, supporting each other in hard times and enjoying the moments of success like kids on Christmas morning. For that camaraderie to suddenly be absent takes its toll emotionally, but we understand we also have an important role to play in the fight against this virus. Right now, our task is simple: stay home, maybe play some FIFA and make sure we don’t spread this virus to others.

I’m lucky enough to have a roommate, Isaiah, and a friend staying with me, which makes it a bit easier to keep my mind occupied while indoors. We now spend our days experimenting with our cooking skills, which I only hope will improve dramatically soon. We’ve even turned the top floor of my home into a little indoor soccer arena. I don’t know when I’ll return to the pitch with my teammates. I’m sure a lot of you are in the same position. But if we keep our loved ones close and find new ways to occupy our minds, we'll make it through this.

I can’t wait to see you all back at Toyota Stadium again soon.

     — Brandon Servania

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