USMNT midfielder Mix Diskerud prepares for his New York City FC adventure
A couple of visits and a lengthy walk around Manhattan did not provide Mix Diskerud with the information he craves about his new home. He resorts to Google Maps to figure out the lay of the land. He talks with his teammates about his club and the pertinent facilities. He wants to figure out for himself where he will live and how he will spend the next few years of his life in New York City.
Diskerud chose this path willingly. He allowed his contract with Rosenborg to expire and instructed his agents to survey all of the options at his disposal. He kept track of the proceedings and started to lean heavily toward New York City FC as the negotiations wound to a close.
“I wanted something new,” Diskerud explained on Tuesday. “[United States coach] Jurgen [Klinsmann] always talks about going out of your comfort zone. This is definitely not a comfort zone for me. I’ve never played here before. I was looking forward to playing among players who had experienced a lot: Frank Lampard, David Villa. There is probably a lot they can show me [about] how to play really good football.”
Everyone surrounding Diskerud points toward the potential still within him. NYCFC coach Jason Kreis highlighted the room for improvement soon after capturing the 24-year-old on a free transfer. Klinsmann spoke openly in the fall about the importance of providing Diskerud with a chance to win a more prominent role at the start of the next World Cup cycle.
There is certainly room for him to make his mark now after finally making his long-mooted move to MLS. NYCFC is a blank slate with the experienced Kreis on the sideline and a nascent squad poised to congregate for the first time in the next few days. Diskerud projects as one of the cornerstone figures in that group even as he adjusts to a new country, a new league and a new life.
It is a responsibility he embraces. He openly pines for the chance to assume a prominent role in the team and shoulder more of the burden once he completes his international duties.
“I’ve been in this game a long time now,” Diskerud said. “I turned professional when I was 18 years old. Everybody has their own thing when it comes to how they are in the locker room. I definitely want to be a leader.”
Most of his work in that department will come through setting the right example on the field. By his own admission, Diskerud is more likely to swing an arm around the shoulder than swing it towards a teammate. He envisions a landscape where he learns more and more about his colleagues and figures out how to accentuate their strengths.
There are positives to take from the strides made at the international level after his return from Brazil. Diskerud occupied a more prominent place in the midfield pecking order amid the experimentation and the shuffling always set to accompany the start of a new World Cup cycle. His displays allowed him to impose himself on the game more readily and take tangible steps toward the directives set forth, though his tendency to drift out of the proceedings still exists nevertheless.
Those moments reinforce the work still ahead. Every camp provides Diskerud with a chance to press his claims further. He must show the application and the mettle required to entrench himself in the starting XI as this team evolves and the tournaments arrive quickly over the next few years.
“It’s not only this year,” Diskerud said. “The next three, four years, there will be a lot of games, a lot of tournaments, which is awesome. I want to be in every single camp possible from the start of January camp. I want to show what I can do, show I’m fit when I come in. I want to help the youngsters who are here for the first or second team, but, obviously, we have a lot of important games moving forward and we want to develop as a team. You always want to do that.”
It is a maxim Diskerud applies across the board. He grasps the magnitude of the openings afforded to him. He relishes the chance to live in the United States for the first time as an adult and revels in the opportunities at his feet. He strives to make the best use of his time as he settles into his new life on and off the field.
There are many, many things left to experience when he finally arrives in his new city. Diskerud discusses the possibility of picking up his business studies and returning to Madison Square Garden to watch hockey. His vocation — always and forever the first priority — provides him with a chance to explore and indulge those curiosities. It is now up to him to find his way around.