"Mix" a key ingredient in blossoming US team
CARSON, Calif. – When your nickname is Mix – a moniker you've encouraged wholeheartedly – you might expect to blend into the background.
In his first two appearances in a United States uniform, Mikkel "Mix" Diskerud hasn't exactly been invisible in the attack, but his strong play has been overshadowed by the exploits of agemates Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury.
In South Africa this past November, 18-year-old New York Red Bulls striker Agudelo was the star after netting the game-winner (on, it should be noted, a stunning assist from Diskerud). Against Chile last Saturday, Agudelo drew the penalty kick, Bunbury slotted it home and the duo "Dougie'd" its way on to SportsCenter as Diskerud watched from the central midfield position he's quietly making his own.
The 20-year-old Stabæk staple possesses obvious flair and creativity in his game, but he demonstrated hard tackling and true grit that helped disrupt the chaotic tactics of Marcelo Bielsa's side. The change in style was by design.
"It's something that the coaches wanted me to work on – that they stressed – so I wanted to show I can do that as well," Diskerud said after the match. "Maybe it was a little bit more working than flair today, but that's no problem when we get the result, maybe not that we're hoping for, but in the end it worked out OK."
Diskerud, who rarely stops smiling when talking to reporters, doesn't seem to crave much recognition. He's satisfied by doing his job on the field and then moving on to the next task. The 6-foot midfielder boasts a maturity beyond his years.
The final trait might be why Bob Bradley arranged for Diskerud and Agudelo to room together during the 17-day training camp. The American manager wants to keep his young forward grounded despite his ever-increasing success, and the Norwegian-born talent, who's developed slowly, steadily and successfully, can provide a good model.
As a friendship flourishes outside the lines, a connection is growing stronger inside them.
"Anything you do off the field translates on the field," Agudelo said of the ability he and his roommate have of finding each other during the run of play.
Diskerud added a third Musketeer – Bunbury – to the positive off-field, on-field dynamic.
"It's fun to play with those two guys," he said. "We've been hanging out together here in California so we have a good connection. It shows on the pitch as well."
The three have earned a combined six caps over the past two games. More importantly, they've generated two goals and created many quality scoring chances. The two forwards may snag the headlines, but that's acceptable to the man lined up just behind them on the field.
Diskerud knows that he, along with Agudelo and Bunbury, will be a key ingredient in US national team mix for years to come.
Noah Davis covers the United States national team for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @noahedavis.<p><a href="http://www.mlssoccer.com/extratime"><img src="http://www.mlssoccer.com/sites/default/files/extratime_banner.jpg" alt="" /></a></p>