You might be forgiven for holding your breath, you might be forgiven for being skeptical, but it's official:
Mix Diskerud is a New York City player.
After weeks of rumors -- some of which had him signing with Liga MX club Tijuana -- and demurrals from the man himself, New York City FC announced they had signed him this morning.
Diskerud, 24, joins the team on a free transfer. Prior to joining New York City, Diskerud played for Norwegian power Rosenborg for three seasons. He had 78 appearances for Rosenborg, scoring eight goals with six assists. He started his Norwegian career with Stabæk; he appeared 88 times for them, scoring ten goals with ten assists.
Most American fans, however, know him as a member of the U.S. men's national team. Diskerud has been capped 25 times, and has scored five goals for the team. He was a member of the 2014 U.S. World Cup team, but didn't see any playing time in Brazil. He made his debut for the U.S. in 2010, playing against South Africa, having decided to commit to the U.S. in 2009. Diskerud has scored twice in the last five games, including a goal in Landon Donovan's final international game.
In his time playing for the Americans, Diskerud has become a cult figure, known for his flowing mahogany locks and his quirky sense of humor. He regularly posts on soccer forums, and he's used social media platforms like Twitter to engage with fans.
In a statement released by the club, Diskerud waxed enthusiastic about joining New York City.
"New York City FC have made my wish as an American a reality by giving me the opportunity to play and live in the US.
"Everybody I have spoken to on the men’s national team about Jason Kreis has spoken highly of him to me. I felt exactly the same way after meeting him. I’m sure he will help me to develop my game, to succeed with our team here in New York and to stay involved with the national team. Coming to play for New York City FC was an easy decision for me."
For his part, interviewed at the MLS Combine ahead of Thursday's Super Draft, Kreis extolled Diskerud's virtues as a player.
"I really just couldn't be happier," Kreis said during the final day of the MLS Player Combine. "I think he's such an exciting and dynamic player. He's the type of player that -- myself, as a coach, and I think our club in the direction we're going in -- fits exactly with what we're trying to do."
Kreis praised Diskerud's ability to slot into several spots in midfield and noted the importance of the promising midfielder's commitment to continually improving his game.
"I think he's attempting to add more to his game," Kreis said. "I think Jurgen [Klinsmann, United States coach] has made no secret of the fact that he wants him to do more, wants him to be a little bit of a harder and tougher player. The exciting thing for me is that when you speak to him, he takes those messages on board. He wants to develop his game. He certainly knows he is not a finished product. He is looking to develop his game. And I'm excited to be a part of that."
It's worth noting that New York City didn't sign Diskerud as a designated player, which means that there's still room to add yet another impact player to the roster. That makes his signing particularly astute, since the general expectation was that Diskerud would be signed as a DP. His previous two flirtations with MLS teams -- most famously with Portland, two years ago -- would've seen him signed that way.
But with Diskerud now being a free agent, that meant MLS didn't have to pay a transfer fee to his club. That means, in turn, that his wages could be higher. So everyone comes out ahead.
With all that in mind, where does Diskerud fit in for New York City? Let's take a look.
New York City's midfield right now is in flux. Frank Lampard, as we all know, isn't coming until the summer. Currently, New York City's midfield is made up of six players: four central midfielders (Mehdi Ballouchy, Ned Grabavoy, Andrew Jacobson, and Matt Dunn) and two attacking midfielders (Thomas McNamara and Sebastian Velasquez). Bellouchy, Dunn, and Grabavoy are all shuttlers; historically, Jacobson has been a box-to-box midfielder. McNamara and Velasquez, meanwhile, play up top, but McNamara has also been a midfield shuttler.
In his pro career, Diskerud's been more of a multi-varied midfielder than an out-and-out creative playmaker; in other words, he does a lot of things well without actually excelling in any one area. While Mix looks like a "number 10", and sometimes acts that way, he's not actually that kind of player. He's actually more of a hybrid 8/10 midfielder -- a Swiss Army knife-midfielder, if you will. He's good with the ball, and he can keep the play moving, but he's not an out-and-out creator.
For that reason, I don't expect him to occupy the number 10 position. I think Velasquez (or McNamara) will hold that position down at least until July, when Lampard joins the team. I think Jacobson holds down the left midfield, and either Grabavoy or Dunn are your Kyle Beckerman-style defensive midfielders. Grabavoy, especially, has done that in the past, so don't be surprised if he transitions to that role here in New York City.
That frees up Diskerud to play on the right, off both Grabavoy and Velasquez. In other words, the lineup for New York City might look something like this:
That means that you want your left and right backs to be fairly mobile, especially if Diskerud is playing that far up. Don't be surprised if, given Wingert's age, the next pickup for New York City is a young left back, either in the draft or in free agency. Similarly, don't be surprised if over the course of the season, Josh Williams displaces Jeb Brovsky on the right. Williams has already demonstrated he's got that kind mobility.
Regardless: MIx's addition to the team adds another dimension of flexibility, and makes New York City that much more potent in the midfield. It is a real statement of intent, and it's definitely a sign that the club isn't just treading water.