HARTFORD, Conn. – Fret not, there's at least one dual national that the United States won’t be losing out on for a change.
The minute the referee’s whistle blew and the ball rolled forward against Belize in the US national team’s Gold Cup opener, 22-year-old Mix Diskerud’s international fate was sealed. In the parlance of international soccer, he was cap-tied, inextricably linked to the red, white and blue of the US.
And despite a tug of war between Norway, where he grew up and plays professionally for Rosenborg, and the United States, where his mother was born to make him eligible to play, Diskerud is now all in with Jurgen Klinsmann’s side ahead of Tuesday night’s Group C finale against Costa Rica (8 pm ET | Fox Soccer, UniMas | Live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
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“The morning of gameday I knew I was going to be cap-tied because the coach told me I was going to play,” Diskerud told reporters Monday evening before US training. “Then I just started adjusting to the facts and the feeling that I was going to be cap-tied. It’s fun. It’s been a close race. It’s been back and forth [between Norway and the US] for a long time. I’m happy with the decision.”
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US fans are certainly ecstatic the silky-smooth midfielder is finally locked in after three games – he has six caps overall – in which he’s impressed observers with his tidy distribution, a knack for the final pass and the willingness to grind on both sides of the ball.
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Costa Rica head coach Jorge Luis Pinto even name-dropped Diskerud when asked about players his staff is keying on ahead of a match that will decide who wins the group and avoids Honduras in the quarterfinals.
Well, almost name-dropped. Pinto referred to Diskerud simply as “No. 8,” something the attack-minded midfielder hopes to change after having the target on his back Tuesday night.
“Hopefully he knows my name after the game,” Diskerud said. “That’s nice that he says that. I hope they don’t get too physical with me, but that’s kind of what I like about soccer. You can tackle and you can do things as long as they’re safe.”
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So far during this Gold Cup, Diskerud’s main competition for a place in Klinsmann’s side seems to be Stuart Holden. Each has started one match so far – Diskerud playing 90 minutes against Belize, while Holden played the first 58 against Cuba before being replaced by his younger teammate – after forming a formidable second-half pairing against Guatemala that helped lead the US to a handful of goals.
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And while neither figures to give much ground in the fight for a starting spot, Holden was nothing but complimentary when asked about his now-permanent teammate.
“He reminded me of me when I was younger. He always wants to get on the ball,” Holden said. “He’s got that youthful exuberance after training, taking 30 shots. If I did that, I think 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.”
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And, of course, the future is very much on the mind of each and every player on this Gold Cup squad.
Yes, they want to win the tournament and dethrone Mexico. But all 23 players in camp, Diskerud included, also understand that a strong Gold Cup could very well be the golden ticket that lands them in Brazil next summer with even more on the line.
“Everybody wants to be a part of that,” Diskerud said. “But for me, it’s right here, right now. I’m having fun and just going to do what I can and show what I can. We’ll see what happens.”