STANFORD, Calif. – Mix Diskerud has long described his decision-making process for choosing between representing the US or Norway internationally as a case of “first come, first served.”
Now it seems as though that non-choice has proven to be the right one.
Barely three-and-a-half years after making his debut with the US senior side, Diskerud has a chance over the next two weeks to nail down a World Cup roster spot in his first try. Not surprisingly, it’s a situation that gives Diskerud no reason to suffer from any regrets.
“No, none at all,” Diskerud told reporters at Stanford Stadium before the US began training Friday. “I’ve had so much fun. I feel part of this group now. It’s the best feeling ever.”
Diskerud played for both US and Norwegian youth national teams but said he didn’t need any time to ponder his ultimate destination once then-head coach Bob Bradley selected him in for a friendly against South Africa in November 2010. He wasn’t even swayed by the fact that one of his first World Cup memories is of the celebrations that followed Noway’s win against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup.
“As soon as I got the call, I said, ‘Yes,’” Diskerud said. “I didn’t think about it at all. … A lot of Norwegians wish that I played for the Norwegian national team, but I just look at that as a positive thing, that they want me to play for them because they think I’m a good player. But I feel really, really glad about my decision.”
Diskerud is also trying to change those minds, in small batches. The Oslo native spends his winter offseasons from the Tippeligaen with family in Arizona, typically inviting enough Norwegians – including, in some instances, national team members – to fill two cars for a road trip through California.
The 23-year-old is back in California with a chance to turn his breakout performances in last year’s Gold Cup – which included his second career USMNT goal and a 66-minute stint in the final after Stuart Holden’s ugly knee injury – into a World Cup berth.
“Just do what I’ve been doing in the past,” said Diskerud, who feels he’s at his best in the middle of the park, regardless of how high up the field he’s positioned. “I like setting my teammates up for chances and opportunities. But I can also go more offensively and be in attack. As long as I get the ball a lot, I’m happy.”
The Gold Cup run not only put Diskerud in the World Cup mix, so to speak, but it also gave him a window into the US’ attitude on the pitch.
“Every time we played a game, we were kind of certain, not cocky, but we knew we were going to win because we had good players,” Diskerud said. “And that’s a great mentality. It’s kind of the American mentality, I would say. You feel like you can beat any team, [whether] it’s Germany or Panama or whatever.”