This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end. Not after how it began; with billboards, with videos, with bespoke snapbacks. With pomp and circumstance worthy of a player who’d sojourned to the Champions’ League, not the Tippeligaen.
That’s the elemental paradox of Mikkel Morgenstar Pålssønn Diskerud. To a certain kind of fan, Diskerud has always been the future of the USMNT, and always will be. When he arrived in Gotham, he arrived to glorious expectation — a young American star, paired with David Villa’s Iberian scoring punch and awaiting Frank Lampard’s Britannic tutelage in the midfield.
The reality was starkly different.
Diskerud was lost more often than he was found. Never was this more pathetically obvious than in New York City’s inaugural season, when Diskerud scampered majestically down the midfield against the LA Galaxy with the ball — only to be simply dispossessed of it. Then, like a fawn in the forest clearing, Diskerud stood in thought; the Galaxy surged forward, carving the Blues’ midfield like a Thanksgiving turkey.
The game, nationally televised, went from rout to embarrassment. It was emblematic of Diskerud’s time in the five boroughs; sad, puzzling, frustrating. The talent outweighed by the mentality, or lack thereof.
I take no joy in having repeatedly pointed this out. Switching managers — from Jason Kreis to midfield legend Patrick Vieira -- made no difference. After a few early appearances last season, Vieira gave up on playing Diskerud.
Finally, one last appearance in the Open Cup against the New York Cosmos. It was for naught; the Cosmos justifiably hammered the Blues, and Diskerud was less than a factor. For the remainder of the season, Diskerud cut a forlorn figure, less a player than a specter, occasionally appearing at Yankee Stadium; more often on Instagram.
One last time: this past week, the morning star shines but dimly, scrabbling a poem, venting his frustration. Now Diskerud’s star is extinguished. His race is run, at least here in Gotham.
The fact that New York City bought out his contract — instead of waiving him — means that he’s likely leaving MLS altogether. But where will he play? It’s highly doubtful that he’ll command the rumored $750,000 per year the Blues were paying him anywhere else. If he wants to keep playing — and, at least to me, that's a seriously open question — he’ll need to do two things:
- buckle down and re-dedicate himself to the sport, instead of entirely being a “character”;
- take a massive pay cut.
It’s unclear that he’s willing to do either of those two things. He wasn’t a good enough player that Rosenborg was willing to pay him to extend their contract; New York City is buying him out, which indicates no other MLS team is willing to take on his current contract, and that he’s willing to take a pay cut.
So it’s likely that we’ve seen the last of the morning star. It’d be a damned shame; American soccer needs more characters like Mix, not fewer. But it’s worth remembering the ones we’ve had — like Frankie Hejduk — have also been fanatically hard workers. That’s something Diskerud might consider as he comes to two roads diverging in his life this afternoon.