After making final commitment to USMNT, Diskerud shining at Gold Cup

Mikkel Diskerud

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Mix Diskerud had a lot swirling through his head on the morning of his first Gold Cup match.

Hours before the U.S. Men’s National Team squared off with Belize in their Gold Cup opener on July 9th, Diskerud was informed by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann that he was in store for a start that day. While Diskerud thought about the challenges he was set to face that day, the 22-year-old midfielder also took time to reflect on the finality of a decision he took years to make, a decision that would become final as soon as he took the field that night in Portland.

Diskerud’s impressive, 90-minute performance that night in a 6-1 romp over Belize cap-tied him to the United States, effectively ending a tug-of-war of sorts between the U.S. and Norway that had been going on for nearly half a decade.

“I started adjusting to the fact and the feeling that I was going to be cap-tied,” said Diskerud of what he was feeling in the hours leading up to kickoff. “It’s fun. It’s been a close race kind of, it’s been back and forth for a long time, but I’m happy with the decision.”

Born in Norway to an American mother and Norwegian father, Diskerud had spent several of his younger years bouncing back and forth between U.S. and Norway’s youth teams. Diskerud could have easily been swayed by Norway’s repeated attempts to reel him into their program but he always kept an open mind as to which nation he would represent on the international stage.

Ultimately, Diskerud publicly devoted himself to the U.S. program and it did not take him long to make an impact. He delivered an impressive game-winning assist in his international debut in a friendly against South Africa back in November 2010 and also scored his first goal in a tie with Russia last November.

While those moments served as a good preview of what Diskerud could do in a U.S. jersey, it is his early summer performances which have really made American fans salivate at what may lie ahead. Diskerud has brought a calming presence to the U.S. midfield when he has played and has looked anything but a young player still adapting to the international game.

Diskerud is not exactly a stranger to playing internationally or spending several weeks with his American teammates, having taken part in January camps with the U.S. before. But what is different about this camp for him is that it is the first one in which there is real pressure to perform, is exposing him to the heavy traveling load that comes with being a U.S. international, and is finally providing him a golden chance to showcase the qualities he can bring.

“I don’t feel I’ve shown in the past what I’m capable of,” said Diskerud of his first four caps with the U.S. team. “I feel like I’ve been game-changing kind of. Last five minutes, I’ve been subbed in, I’ve scored goals and assists, but really what I’m good at is building up the game and creating chances for teammates and getting a flow.

“I feel like the three games I’ve been part of now, it’s showing.”

That has not been lost on Diskerud’s head coach. Klinsmann has given Diskerud healthy cameos in all three matches this month, something which would have been hard to predict in January when the German-born U.S. coach surprisingly left Diskerud off the game-day roster for a B-team friendly against Canada.

Diskerud’s teammates have also taken notice of his skill in this camp, especially the calmness, creativity and forward-thinking that at times has been missing from the U.S. midfield.

“He’s a good player on the ball. Technically, very sound,” said midfielder Stuart Holden. “He reminds me of me when I was younger and he always wants to get on the ball and he’s got that youthful exuberance. After training, he’s hitting 30 shots and I think if I did that now my quad would probably end up in the goal before the ball. It’s good to see.

“He’s a young player, very talented, and I think if he’s brought along the right way he could be a very big player for this national team in the future.”

For Diskerud, the Gold Cup is giving him ample opportunity to make a statement to Klinsmann about whether he should be with the Americans’ A-team. Diskerud, however, is not focused on that, nor is he looking ahead to Brazil 2014.

Not yet, anyway.

“Everybody wants to be a part of that, but for me, it’s just (about focusing on) right here, right now,” said Diskerud. “I’m having fun and I’m just going to do what I can and show what I can and then I’ll see what happens.

“It’s just fun. You get to meet a group of guys who are helpful and we do a lot of stuff off the field as well. It’s different ages, but you can’t really see that when you’re playing and when you’re off the pitch. It’s nice to be a part of it.”

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61 Responses to After making final commitment to USMNT, Diskerud shining at Gold Cup

  1. squirtlover says:

    He plays the position that might be the deepest in our pool. I like his game and I hope JK finds a way to exploit his talents.

    • Dominican Lou says:

      The US has a lot of defensive minded midfielders and a superb box-to-box man in Bradley but in terms of positive creativity we’re still a little thin.

      • Dan says:

        agreed, Holden and Mix are our best opportunities for a deep lying creative midfielder.

        If we go back to a 4-3-3 one of them has to pair with Bradley and Jones.

    • Smacking says:

      Agreed, but I like his attacking approach. He still has to prove himself overtime and against better opposition, but he’s making a case for a role as a sub in search of a goal.

      • Rory says:

        Yeah, after Bradley and Jones I think the so called depth we have in central midfield is mostly a rotation policy because nobody sticks out. I think Mix is definitely in that rotation, could even move up out of it but hopefully Holden stays healthy and returns to top Prem League form, so Mix is looking at 4th option if all goes his way.

        • Smacking says:

          Right now most of our available options have a fairly similar skill set, so we basically try to play the best available player. If we had a player that had more attacking bite, we could make situation changes.

    • Toadvine says:

      I think he’s a bit different from the other guys, though. He’s got a little creativity and comfort on the ball and he’s more indirect. If he stays healthy I think he’s going to have a big role long-term.

    • GW says:

      Not really.

      Mix plays a lot like Pirlo or the Galaxy vintage Beckham and I don’t think there is any other American you can say that about.

  2. Ben says:

    Disk is having a nice gold cup and is continuing his strong performance he put in with the U-23 team in the past. I think he is still a relative long shot to make the USA WC team because Midfield is easily the position where the US is the deepest but assuming good health I could see him being a huge factor in the 2018 cycle.

    • Lost in Space says:

      After 2014 the landscape of the USNT is going to shift significantly. Players Like Jones, Dempsey, Donovan, Dolo, Beasley, Gomez, Wondo, Beckerman will retire from the International Game after the 2015 GC.
      Players like Mixx, Williams, Chandler, Corona & Shea are going to be asked to step up and fill the voids. With Bradley, F. Johnson, & Jozy providing the leadership/experience there will be a lot of opportunity for these young players to make a name for themselves.

    • Dan says:

      Better him than Beckerman O_o

  3. Travis says:

    Would like to see him make a move to a slightly bigger league, Netherlands or Belgium perhaps? Think the lack of playing against good competition week in and out will limit his growth unless he moves, he clearly has the talent

    • biff says:

      If he continues showing well in these next Gold Cup games I would not be surprised to see some teams from better leagues swoop in for him. I thought he very good against Cuba, had not expected him to be that good.

      • Rory says:

        I think he makes the WC next year. Given that the norweigian league plays the same schedule as MLS, I can see a fairly fresh Mix making an impact as a sub. I think there’s a chance he’s Bradley’s midfield partner after Jones retires/gets hurt/whatever. I like Holden but there is an injury question, most of the other young guys seem pretty well fitted to the wings also so they might not be his direct competition.
        I’d say the real loser to Mix’s ascent is Kljestan.

    • zztoppppp says:

      He was loaned out to a Belgium club in 2011 and it didn’t work out well for him at all, but in the past year and a half in Norway he has blossomed into one of the top midfielders in the league. If he stays in Norway for another year or two I will be okay with it, but before he turns 25 he needs to at least try to go to Holland.

      • Travis says:

        Ya I know he spent half a season in Belgium but that was about a year and a half ago and I have seen a progression since then. Would like to see him challenge himself again

      • Bobb says:

        That’s because he came over and then missed significant time with the US U-23 team, he never really settled in and then the loan was over.

  4. Jim says:

    What stands out for me is his calmness and confidence on the ball. He has a Xavi-like persona — always knowing where his next pass is going even before he receives the ball. I really want to see him tested by some pressing opponents. If he holds up, I could see a midfield of Bradley, Diskerud, Torres/Holden, Corona, and Dempsey!!!

  5. Toadvine says:

    I really, really like the way he plays. He’s calmer on the ball than anyone I’ve seen in a USMNT jersey since Claudio Reyna and he’s got that little slipperiness that lets him glide into little pockets of space in the midfield and get the ball. He’s simple but also incisive. In my opinion his play has been the best discovery of the Gold Cup and I’m glad we bagged him.

    • biff says:

      agree with you on Diskerud, but I think Corona and Diskerud at this moment are running neck-to-neck as best discoveries of the Gold Cup. If both can continuing performing at high levels for the rest of the Gold Cup and then translate those performances for the A-team, it is possible both could be on the plane for Brazil next summer.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I think Torres and Shea are playing themselves out of contention. Mixx was good against Guatemala, Corona was good against Cuba, and Holden was good against Guatemala and Belize. I think the ones who have good games will stay in the picture, but it is a crowded situation.

      I’d also say someone like Kljestan may be missing out by not being there because the people who are playing well with whom he is competing may be able to make a strong case before he can even answer. You watch the three I’ve seen play well and it’s like why bother with Sacha.

      All told I think it’s a good situation on the attack because you have many people playing well pushing each other.

      I’m less comfortable with the backs. Castillo and Parkhurst have been exposed and the opposition quality is not high enough to get a read on whether we should bother.

      • zztoppppp says:

        +1 about Kljestan. His weak (almost nonexistent) performance against Belgium coupled with the rise of Mix and resurgence of Holden may leave Sacha on the outside looking in.

        I think if Mix can outplay Maurice Edu in the next year, all three of the aforementioned players may wind up on the WC roster.

      • Ben says:

        Shea hasn’t played him self out of contention he looked dangerous in his appearance against belize and then just looked rusty against Cuba. The rust makes sense as he has been injured for basically the last 6 months and has had almost 0 minutes. Shea had plenty of talent that if he demonstrates he is in decent form with his club he will likely get more oppertunities because at the end of the day he is one of the few players in the pool that have the athletisism and skill to be a huge threat on the left wing.

  6. Josh D says:

    I’ve been a proponent of Mix’s since 2011. While I do think he’s more talented than Holden at the same age, they do play the same type of game. Mix just drifts into the game with ease and finds the flow. He doesn’t try to do too much with the ball, he always knows what he’s going to do before getting it, and he’s not afraid to rip a 20 yard belter on target.

    I know Klinsi crticized his inability to dig in, but I don’t think he depends on that for his defense. Mix’s defense comes from blocking p@ssing lanes. For that reason, I’d look to him as a Carrick-type player.

    I think we bring four central midfielders to the World Cup. Bradley, Jones, Holden, Mix. Then we have someone like Cameron who can play there in a pinch. Edu hasn’t won me over since 2010.

    • biff says:

      Mix was never on my radar but his showing against Cuba was a revelation. Another few games like that and I will be excited.

    • TomG says:

      I like Mixx but I’d disagree with the comp to Carrick as well as saying he’s better than Stu at the same age. Stu was always one of, if not the best of the players coming up through the ranks and he possessed an unusual energy and work rate in addition to the technical skills. I’m not sure Mixx has that special work rate or the defensive bite that Stu or Carrick had. I guess we will just have to wait and see. I always love watching the kid. I’m a little surprised he hasn’t been linked to the Eridivisie. He seems to be a perfect fit.

      • Josh D says:

        Mix’s failed attempt in Belgium really hurt him. I wish this interviewer asked him about his time there. He’s been silent about it.

        Carrick never had defensive bite. I’m a huge United fan and haven’t missed a game in years. He can tackle when need be, as can Mix. But Carrick’s first reaction is never the tackle. It’s the interception.

        I don’t recall being captivated by Holden at the same age. Mix is only 22 and comes into the field and acts like the veteran. It’s bravery that I admire in him. Bravery and leadership.

  7. MikeG says:

    Sure, the US is deep in midfield, but limited in the kind of skill Diskerud brings.

    • zztoppppp says:

      If he puts in a few more good performances in the Gold Cup, I think he should be placed ahead of Kljestan, Edu, Williams and Beckerman on the USMNT depth chart.

  8. CJinOC says:

    Just thinking out loud, but:

    I think the thing that makes him stand out from most of our midfield pool is the fact that he’s a creator, an attacking midfielder, if you will. As opposed to the box-to-box midfielder that we see in MB, Stu, or even JFT and sometimes JJ. Nor is he the no. 6 that Beckerman, JJ (should be), or geoff is. He’s more along the lines of what we want Benny or Sacha to be, but perhaps a bit more technical.

    I think the reluctance with that is a hesitance to play the 4-1-3-2 against bigger opponents (less protection for the back 4), or having to push both Clint and LD out wide in a 4-2-3-1, thus narrowing our attack (unless Chandler starts doing what we all expect him to be capable of, or we get two FBs that can really play both ways).

    Of course, this is all conjecture about the A squad as it stands now, and how Mixx fits into it. I don’t necessarily think that he will develop into the #10 that we need (looking back, it reads that way), but I think it’s hard for USMNT players that play in that central creative role. It’s exciting to see one come up, but I hope he continues to develop his game, and doesn’t flounder with the Nat’s by being pushed outside.

    • mikeg says:

      You pointed out a very good fact about the 4-1-3-2 against stronger competition. With Gonzalez and Besler playing CB I think JK feels safer with a 2 DM setup acting as windshield wipers. With Gooch playing as a CB, instead of Gonzo, JK feels more comfortable to go with 1 DM. The first two games in the Gold Cup reflect a weaker opponent and this could also be a factor of playing 1 DM. This whole Gold Cup begins with Costa Rica tonight. Let’s see the DM setup against Costa Rica.

  9. Tony in Quakeland says:

    So, today on SBI, we have learned that Beckerman is “blossoming” and DIx is “shining”. Can’t explain why that made me laugh. but it did…. Soccer by Wayne Dyer.

    • Bobb says:

      Mix is shining. I don’t understand how Beckerman is blossoming. Talk about a poor choice of words. Does whoever wrote that not know what blossoms are? They are young flowers. Beckerman is in his early 30s, he’s like a droopy wilted rose with petals falling off every few minutes… and even in its prime that flower was one of the least impressive in the vase.

  10. JoKr says:

    From what I’ve seen, the US mid-field has been most dynamic with Mix and Holden partnered in the mid-field and, given what would appear to be an impressive understanding of each other’s movement, there has been no discernable drop-off in defensive cover even when opponents are chasing the game. It’s the kind of soccer US fans craved when JK was put in charge and there have been moments, moments mind you, that the US team has been absolutely fun to watch (albeit against relative minnows)

  11. StevieBob says:

    DiskerUUUUUUUUUUUUd!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope we see him on the World Cup roster. His dominance in the midfield could be a great asset to the USMNT’s A squad in the future (and even now). He should start getting more playing time against he world’s best.

  12. Brad says:

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this article is about as worthless as the Beckerman article. I really am quite high on Mix, but being able to compete well against Belize and Cuba, really doesn’t tell us anything about where he is in terms of going forward. Lets see him play against the Ticos, and some better teams, before we say he is shiny.

    I really can’t understand how some people are reacting. We are so proud of ourselves for taking the slow kids lunch money. If Mix (and even Becks) shows as well in the 3rd match and into the elimination rounds, then we should talk about where they may fit in.

    • Myett says:

      Watch the Russia match again…pretty good competition and Mix looked good there, even scroed a goal to tie the game in stoppage time. Also, check out his highlights on Youtube…some of his volleys are really top quality.

      • Brad says:

        Like I said, I think Mix has loads of potential, but 8 mins against Russia, and some highlights on youtube, don’t give us enough. For what its worth, I think his assist in SA was fantastic. All I am saying is we need to see him in a game that really means something, and we are not 3 goal favorites.

    • Jim says:

      You dissect the cadaver you’re given!! Mixx played well against weak competition and now we will see if he can step it up!!!

  13. the original jb says:

    I’ve been fairly impressed whenever I’ve seen Diskerud. My big question is how will he perform defensively against the better international teams. Can he mark bigger faster centermids? Also, will he be able to have the same impact on games against better teams that will pressure more? If so, he will be a key player and starter for the next cycle.

  14. bryan says:

    good read Franco! out of curiosity, i know everyone has their own opinion about what type of player he is, but does anyone actually know what HE considers himself? #8, #10, etc.? based on his comments, it sounds like he sees himself as a #10 type player. then again, you could argue he is describing a #8.

  15. Joe Dirt says:

    Mixx is a great addition for depth and the future. Remember first cap when he assist on that goal to Agudelo in the S. Africa friendly back in Jan 2011. Kid’s got some silky passing abilties and seems capable of playing the #10 role if needed. However, he was very Bradley-esque in the Cuba game. He was the fulcrum in distributing the ball around the pitch. You could see his teammates looking to find him the ball so he could distribute the way Bradley does for the A team. Its very encouraging the watch. Holden did much the same in the second half against Honduras. Its a big relief to know that we have two capable backups that can at least come close to duplicating what Bradley gives us in case he gets injury going into WC 2014.

  16. JAY NT says:

    love this dude

    very articulate
    he speaks the way he plays

    been hoping he gets shine since his agudelo assist (which was delightful to watch)

  17. Jody says:

    I appreciate that he isn’t afraid to have a (quality) crack at the goal from outside the 18. He’s had a few great looking shots from distance, and that isn’t something many of our players bring to the table (Bradley, Dempsey, that’s about it)

  18. Mat says:

    Is it just me or is this Prince William with long hair?

  19. Mat says:

    More seriously, Mix is an interesting young player with an aggressive approach, which is quite refreshing. He does need to graduate to a better league, though.
    This said, we need to see how he fares vs. better teams, but so far, just as Wondo, he’s scoring serious points to get a call up for the next USMNT full team games.

  20. TGA says:

    but he is not a real american….when are we going to get on with creating a real USMNT…

    Norwegian American
    German American
    Scot American
    Mexican American
    Haitian American

    how about more American Americans

    • Mat says:

      And what is an American American?

    • zztoppppp says:

      If you want to get technical, by ruling out all of those options you would lose:
      Norway – Diskerud
      Germany – Jones, Johnson, Boyd, Williams, Chandler and the possibility of Brooks
      Scotland – Holden
      Mexico – Castillo, Gomez, Orozco, Corona, Torres.
      Haiti – Altidore.

      I don’t know if I’m ready for us to lose all of them just yet….

    • bryan says:

      Native Americans?

  21. alex says:

    I think people really need to look at this lineup as a possibility for the World Cup featuring Mixx in the centre.

    ——————Jozy—————–
    ——————-CD——————
    ———–MB90—–Mixx———-
    FJ————-JJones——-Chandler
    —-Besler-Gonzo-Cameron—–
    —————Howard—————-

    I feel like this formation gets the best out of our talent. I really like the idea of Fabian and Timmy as true wingers. Lets try it in a friendly Klisi.

    • Josh D says:

      I like it, but playing with three defenders is extremely difficult. Especially as neither of those three play in a defensive-three at the club level.

      But the relative speed in Besler and Cameron (for CBs) would be best utilized like that. I just don’t see us being that experimental. Chile did a good job with it though.

      • alex says:

        I agree with the difficulty level, but why not trot out there in this formation for the first half of the Boznia-Herzgovia friendly and see what the players do with it.