In the midst of Oscar madness last night, New York City FC midfielder Mix Diskerud decided to get in touch with his famous (or infamous?) creative side, posting an original work on Instagram for all to see.
If the first few lines there look familiar, it’s because NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira has intimated as much. The interesting bit, however, is the last couple lines of the first paragraph:
’cause the budget is tight
and binding contracts might
be broken, to improve 5-6 positions – in exchange for only one man.
That line, “to improve 5-6 positions – in exchange for only one man” seems to indicate that a discussion took place between Mix and the club about renegotiation. It’s well known that Diskerud’s price-tag has been a huge deterrence for teams who may be looking to acquire him, but the specifics presented here point to the possibility that NYCFC have made an effort to free up all of the money Mix is currently occupying in order to improve the team as a whole.
If Mix was even negotiated down to $250,000 – that’s $500,000 the club could use however they please. That could be five $100,000 players, or maybe even just one or two $250,000 players. That’s the salary range of guys like Ronald Matarrita ($150k), Andoni Iraola ($200k), and Jack Harrison ($125k). Steven Mendoza and Federico Bravo – loanees from last season – also made in the $150k range according to the MLS Players Union.
In any case, Mix has made it clear that a frank conversation took place with the club in which they laid bare their plans. To be clear, nobody should be blaming Mix Diskerud for making this difficult on the team. He signed a contract with the club, and he’d be silly to forfeit that money without the guarantee of being able to move on and play somewhere else for a comparable deal. He’d effectively be leaving $750,000 on the table, and I don’t know anyone in their right mind who would do that.
It was a poor contract to begin with. Coming in to the league, Mix was a largely unknown quantity. He had his appearances with the US Men’s National Team in which he would show flashes of brilliance, but apart from that Americans never really got a good, consistent look at the type of player he was. Mix’s rumored arrival to MLS was met with a lot of hype, even before he landed with NYCFC. There were strong rumors surrounding a possible landing spot in Columbus – rumors confirmed by Columbus coach Greg Berhalter. He was unquestionably marketable, and any MLS side that signed him would be able to bank on his presence.
But was that marketability enough? The one thing NYCFC was missing in their inaugural roster was a USMNT player. They had their international stars in David Villa and (later) Frank Lampard, and assorted MLS veterans taken in the Expansion Draft. They had their eyes on a young up-and-comer in Khiry Shelton (drafted two days after the Mix announcement). A national team player was the last piece of that first-year puzzle, and the team did what it took to get him here.
Nobody can predict the future. In retrospect, it may have never been possible – even if Mix played every single match – for him to live up to that $750,000 price-tag. Because of how it’s ended, people look for someone to blame. I’m not sure that anyone really deserves any blame. You can’t blame the club for giving Mix $750,000 – they did what they had to to complete their team and make themselves competitive in their inaugural year. You can’t blame Mix for not wanting to needlessly forfeit the money is contractually owed. You can’t blame Patrick Vieira, as Mix was brought in before Vieira even got here.
And sometimes, scenery needs to change. I think we can all agree a change of scenery is exactly what Mix Diskerud needs.