Battle ready? Diskerud has flair, but Klinsmann wants more
CARSON, Calif. – Mikkel “Mix” Diskerud looks increasingly like a future standout for the US national team, offering a nice bit of flair, a gift for creating goals and a presence that figures to become more pronounced as he matures.
The Norwegian-bred midfielder, just 22, isn't there yet, and although he hopes to figure in the Americans' biggest games this year – the World Cup qualifiers and this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup – it's more likely he'll make his real splash with what lies beyond.
He's already got a goal (a stoppage-time equalizer in November's 2-2 draw at Russia) and an assist (setting up Juan Agudelo's late winner two years earlier in a 1-0 decision at South Africa) in three international appearances, and he might have seen more time with the full national team had Jurgen Klinsmann not sent him to the Under-23s after taking over for Bob Bradley.
That was part of Diskerud's education, and the past three weeks at the annual Home Depot Center camp has offered him a few more courses.
He says he needs to “show what I have really ... show I have a little flair and am a good teammate,” and part of that is about becoming as intense in training as he is in games. “Coach Caleb [Porter, Diskerud's U-23 coach] has said before I'm more of a game-type player. That's when I shine.”
Klinsmann likes Diskerud, but sees no reason to rush him along.
“I really believe you've got to give those young players time,” he said. “They kind of put themselves in line and [you] see where they're at. ... Mix moved on [from the U-23s' failure to qualify for last summer's London Olympics] and played Europa League [with Norwegian powerhouse Rosenborg], so we saw him kind of getting his feet wet in the cold water and playing game in, game out, doing a couple really nice assists for goals, and he reads the game really well. He's calm on the ball, he's got fine technique. And so we see his pluses, and then we see his minuses.
“Mix brings a lot of qualities, but he also needs to learn to become more robust, to become more physical, to not be kind of just moving around and not getting into real battles. You know, battles are everywhere; we all go into battles. This is something he will pick up the more he is playing in a certain environment, and so we are there to kind of guide him in that process.”
Diskerud signed with Rosenborg last year after a loan stint in Belgium with KAA Gent and re-upped for 2013 after flirting with Portland, now coached by Porter.
“All I can say regarding that is coach Caleb is a fantastic coach and I learned a lot from him and I wish him all the best,” Diskerud told MLSsoccer.com.
Would he consider MLS?
“At some point, yeah,” he said. “I never lived in the States. Only when I was a little kid, so I don't really remember a lot. One stage of my life I will live in the States. If it's in two years or five years or in 20 years, I don't know.”