All Mixxed Up
So, the Portland Timbers want Mixx Diskerud. They should. He is, after all, one of the most promising players in the USMNT pool. I am sure if they had their way, most of the teams in MLS would be salivating after Mixx. The only problem with those teams wanting Mixx is that he is Mixx Diskerud potential USMNT player and they are teams in MLS.
Do not get me wrong here, I love MLS; however, it is not a blind love. Perhaps, someday in the future players of Mixx’s caliber – you know, those fringe international guys – could make a name for themselves in MLS and still thrive at the international level, but that time is not right now.
Mixx Diskerud is a finesse player. He can make that pass, or hit that shot. He can pull a defense out of position only to elegantly pass the ball away to another player. That is not what would happen in MLS, even if Caleb Porter’s hypothetical 4-3-3 – you know, the formation that we don’t even know if it’ll translate into the rough, rugged world of MLS.
Listen, Jurgen Klinsmann has made it clear that he would prefer his American internationals to play outside of America. There is a reason why Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream headed for the hills as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Hell, even George John and Omar Gonzalez gave it a go. There is a cause for USMNT fans taking vague, unsubstantiated rumors and linking Graham Zusi, Brek Shea, and Juan Agudelo to foreign teams. There is a basis for people showing a bit of disappointment when Matt Besler re-signed with Sporting Kansas City. There is a motivation for Freddy Adu looking for any life raft out of MLS.
Truthfully, some of this is the fault of Heir Klinsmann. Jay DeMerit could possibly be the best of the old guard American center backs still playing today, but he plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps; meanwhile, Carlos Bocanegra is starting to look out of his depth, but since he is playing internationally, he is called in while DeMerit is left in the cold Vancouver nights. Argue as you will that Vancouver is a second-rate MLS team all you want, but I find it tough to believe that Racing Santander – currently sitting in the 21st spot in Spain’s 22 team second division – is a better place to play.
Boca is nearing the end of his international career, perhaps of his soccer-playing career, and he knew that a potential move to MLS probably would have cost him any shot in Klinsmann’s squad. So what would happen to a young player like Mixx Diskerud, a player at the very beginning of his USMNT career, if he came to MLS? Would Klinsmann see this as a challenge? He is constantly saying that American players should challenge themselves. And, in his defense, since that statement had been made we’ve seen Michael Bradley thrive at a European giant, we’ve seen Clint Dempsey move to a top 4 side in England, we’ve seen Jozy Altidore become one of the more sought after European goal scorers.
I will be honest, I do not know a whole lot about Norway’s top division, but I would imagine that a team like Rosenborg is a step up from most MLS teams. It is definitely a step up from Portland – despite Portland’s potential to do much better this year. And maybe, like with Freddy Adu back in the summer of ’11, Klinsmann would be on board with Mixx coming to MLS. However, if you look at what has since happened to Adu you have to be concerned about Mixx. Diskerud and Freddy Adu are very technically sound, and even somewhat tactically aware, creative players. Could they thrive in MLS under the right circumstances? Maybe. But if they end up in a poor situation (see: Feilhaber, Benny and New England Revolution) it could snuff out any chance for Mixx.
I want players like Mixx to play in MLS. I want a player of Diskerud’s talent to be common in MLS. Nevertheless, we are not there yet. In theory, I want Mixx in MLS. I think he could up the level of competition, play, and overall style. I would love to see his flash and flare become what is commonplace. In real life, I do not want him in MLS, because I want him on the national team. As of this second, I am not sure I can have one with the other.
But what about Donovan? Donovan is an outlier. He is also a much more known commodity to the USMNT and Klinsmann than Diskerud. Think of the MLS players that have played impactful minutes since Klinsmann took over the team. They are few and far between: Rogers, Zusi, Shea, Beckerman (do not get me started here), Cameron, and I guess Eddie Johnson. Rogers moved on. Cameron is thriving. Agents, fans, and dreamers continually link Zusi and Shea overseas. Beckerman…well, moving on.
Eddie Johnson seems to be the only MLS player who tried the path of moving to Europe, failing spectacularly, returning to MLS and getting another shot with the national team. Meanwhile, outside of a few meaningless friendlies, the two other players that hoped to restart their international careers by coming to MLS – Feilhaber and Adu – are not making the team. Is Johnson another outlier? Perhaps.
Yet, Diskerud is not Feilhaber or Adu. They both had established, or at least semi-established, positions before coming to MLS. He is not Donovan. He is still the talisman of the USMNT. He is not Eddie Johnson. He is an older player who saved his international career by coming back to MLS.
Diskerud is a new breed. He has no truly known spot on the USMNT roster. He is an up-and-coming player. He is fringe at best. He has never played in MLS.
So bully to Portland for going after Mixx Diskerud. It shows that they are ambitious. It shows that Caleb Porter has brass balls even to think it is a possibility. Nevertheless, a move to MLS could spell the end of Mixx Diskerud’s international career before it even started. Either that or it could spring forward a new age of MLS greatness. Klinsmann could take back his comment about challenging yourself with bigger clubs. Terrence Boyd, Joe Gyau, John Anthony Brooks, and other young, fringe, potential USMNT stars could join MLS. Tim Ream could return from the wilderness. The Scandinavian leagues could start to look like a poor move. And monkeys could fly out of my ass.
In a few, #Mixx2PDX could make sense, but right now, it is nothing more than wishful thinking. Maybe someday it will not, but right now, it is only a dream for Caleb Porter, Merritt Paulson, and Don Garber.