March 3rd – New York, NY
One chapter of the Norse Saga that is Mikkel “Mix” Morgenstar Pålssønn Diskerud’s career has been completed. The player’s time with New York City FC has come to an end. Mix Diskerud has had his contract bought out by New York City FC two years after he was signed by the expansion side. His salary will no longer count against the cap for NYCFC, he will however still remain under contract with MLS according to a release from the team.
The midfielder who became a lightning rod for criticism from fans and soccer media after falling out of favor with Patrick Vieira will be removed from NYCFC’s roster, immediately freeing up salary cap space for the club.
Diskerud’s signing was announced on January 13, 2015, shortly after the news broke that NYCFC’s second designated player, Frank Lampard, would not be with the team at the beginning of the season.
Mix was ostensibly brought in to assuage concerns of fans, who feared that City Football Group weren’t serious about their MLS ambitions. Director of Football Claudio Reyna wanted to bring in a USMNT player and paid a high price for it; Diskerud earned $761,250 in 2016 according to the Players Union.
To their credit, Diskerud’s arrival was well received at the time. MLS had flirted with signing Mix several times with both Columbus and Portland reportedly on the verge of signing him before the deals collapsed. The USMNT midfielder sold plenty of jerseys and t-shirts and was prominently featured on NYCFC’s promotional materials. New York City’s first-ever regular season goal was scored by Mix Diskerud in Orlando. Reyna and Kreis looked like geniuses for signing a young USMNT midfielder in his prime as a non-Designated Player.
Since that fateful Orlando goal, Mix has seen his performance and his playing time dwindle, Jason Kreis didn’t quite know what to do with the him. Was he a holding mid? Was he an attacking mid? Was he a winger?
Jason Kreis tried plugging in Diskerud all over the lineup in hopes of finding a good position for him, yet nothing came of it. In 27 games under Jason Kreis, Mix never quite seemed to cement his role in the lineup; he started off playing centrally and eventually was pushed to the right side of midfield with the long-delayed arrival of Frank Lampard. Andrea Pirlo’s arrival in the summer of 2014 ended any hopes that Diskerud would find a permanent central role.
In the winter of 2015 Jason Kreis was sacked and NYCFC brought in World Cup-winning coach Patrick Vieira who had been leading Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad. Vieira then took up the task of figuring out where the $750k man would fit into a midfield that featured Pirlo, Lampard, Tommy McNamara and several of Vieira’s new additions.
Diskerud started the 2016 season well, once again scoring in NYCFC’s opening game. It appeared that Vieira had polished the gem that was Mix’s career. A crowded midfield grew even more cozy when Andoni Iraola was moved into midfield by Vieira early on in the season to help provide defensive assistance. Lampard – who had been sidelined with another injury – made his return on May 21st, further clouding the picture for the Norwegian-American.
The shine had worn off and for reasons unknown, Diskerud’s last regular season appearance for NYCFC was on June 3rd, 2016. In the 19 regular season games and two playoff games that followed, Diskerud only made the bench once, a July 30th game where several players were injured or had been suspended, forcing Vieira to include him. Mix played his last competitive match for NYCFC on June 16th, 2016 in a 0-1 US Open Cup loss to the second division New York Cosmos.
Following that fateful loss, Patrick Vieira took his team to task. Calling out players who had not performed, of the 11 players who started that game for NYCFC, only Mikey Lopez, Khiry Shelton, Ethan White, Shannon Gomez and Eirik Johansen still remain on the roster today (Jefferson Mena has been loaned out).
This offseason, Reyna and Vieira have worked overtime to bring in more midfield players. Alexander Ring, Miguel Camargo, Yangel Herrera, Maxi Moralez and John Stertzer were all brought in to bolster the midfield. Adding further insult to the slight of not even making the 18 for half a year, Diskerud was stripped of his squad number. It was clear to any outside observer that Mix Diskerud would never play a competitive match for NYCFC again.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that GM Claudio Reyna made his midfield acquisitions before clearing out Diskerud’s $761,250 salary from the budget. By buying out his contract, Diskerud’s salary is no longer on the team’s books, clearing up that money to be spent. If the plan all along was for Mix Diskerud’s salary to no longer be on New York City’s books come opening day, one can understand where the salary cap space to sign these players came from.
Diskerud himself added fuel to the fire of speculation with his cryptic social media posts.
Mix Diskerud posted a cryptic Instagram message tonight amid rumors he will have his contract bought out by NYCFC this week. pic.twitter.com/g3MVI4Ioqp
— NYCFC Nation (@NYCFCNation) February 27, 2017
Mix Diskerud had been the subject of plenty of off-season rumors and intrigue among fans. Reports that the team had shopped Diskerud to other MLS teams but found no interested buyers, rumors that Diskerud was headed back to Norway, even going so far as to train there in the offseason, fans hoping the situation would resolve itself quickly and easily found themselves with no such luck.
It would appear that the club, following unsuccessful attempts to trade him away, asked Diskerud to “crack, kneel or disappear” which I interpreted as the club asking him to agree to walk away from his contract or agree to a pay cut to “improve 5-6 positions.”
One can try to read into Diskerud’s social media posts but without any names attached we can only guess as to who the “someone” he alludes to in his posts is. This person told him he’s no longer part of the plan and if he were in Mix’s shoes he would have left, like the others did. One is reminded again that Poku, Mullins, Saunders and Jefferson Mena saw their minutes dwindle until the point where they left for another team.
Clearly following today’s news we can see that Mix Diskerud did not in fact “crack, kneel or disappear” but instead held steady and forced NYCFC to buy him out of his contract.
In the end the Norweigan-American Diskerud who had failed to find a consistent position with Jurgen Klinsmann, Jason Kreis and Patrick Vieira has been cut from NYCFC.
Mix had been patient and quiet about how the team had been handling him up until recently but his frustration seems to have reached a boiling point. Players have a limited window to earn as much income as they can throughout their brief careers and one can’t fault a player for trying to earn as much as he can when he’s one injury away from having his income reduced to $0.
In the end, we may have to wait until Diskerud himself pens a book and tells us about what really happened behind the scenes. Until then, all we can do is look fondly upon the memories he created for fans of the team prior to being blackballed.