The Right Mix: Mix Diskerud
Even before Mix Diskerud signed with NYCFC, the newest team in MLS, you didn’t have to explain to him the significance of playing in Yankee Stadium.
“In Norway, I owned 72 baseball caps,” he says. “They were mostly different Yankee caps because that’s really the only kind you can get there.”
As a star professional soccer player in Norway, Diskerud could afford to amass an impressive collection of Yankee caps, but he never imagined that he would someday play in the hallowed home of New York’s beloved team.
Now, as a midfielder for New York’s newest sports team, Diskerud has joined NYCFC at the very beginning of what many hope will become the next legendary franchise. “It was one of the main reasons I wanted to come to New York,” he says. “Not a lot of people get a chance to be part of something completely new in the sports world. I wanted to be part of that. In our first year, we already have 20,000 founding members. The support in New York has been intense.”
Fate has played a major role in how a 25-year-old from Norway has made New York City his home. Diskerud’s Norwegian father and American mother met as students on the campus of Arizona State University. When Diskerud’s father went back to Norway for military service, his mother moved there as well. They would marry and mom would give birth to a son, Mikkel Morgenstar Paalssønn Diskerud.
“There are different versions of how I was nicknamed Mix,” Diskerud says. “My mom says she called me Mix because I would run around the house in circles like a Mixmaster. My dad says he called me Mix, because I’m a mix of Norwegian and American. To top if off, when I was five, there was another kid christened Mikkel on the team. His dad said one of us needed to go by a nickname, so Mix was sealed.”
When Diskerud turned 18, he faced a major decision—accept a soccer scholarship with the University of San Diego, or sign a contract with Stabaek, a professional team in Norway. Truly divided between the two options, Diskerud let the soccer gods determine his fate. He decided to flip a coin and abide by the result. Diskerud signed with Stabaek in 2008.
His transition to the US required a bit of fate as well. While playing in a youth tournament for Norway, Diskerud lined up to take a corner kick. On the sideline, the then U-20 United States coach Thomas Rongen asked Diskerud if he had a US passport. He answered yes before putting the ball in play. That exchange resulted in an invitation for Diskerud to join the next US U-20 camp. From there, he went on to play for the US Men’s National Team, including the World Cup team in 2014.
“The World Cup was a bittersweet experience,” he says. “You so badly want to make the team, and I did. But then you have friends who don’t and it’s sad. But it’s an experience I will treasure forever.”
Because Diskerud has been a fixture on the US team, many assume that he already has had a lengthy MLS career. He has to remind people that playing pro soccer in America is completely new to him. “When I signed in NY, everyone said. “Welcome back,” but I never played in MLS before,” Diskerud says. “Coach Jurgen Klinsman [of the US National Team] wanted us all to play out of our comfort zone. For me, Europe was my comfort zone, it was what I was used to. Playing in MLS and living in New York City—it was all completely new to me.”
Yet Diskerud has been a fan favorite from day one. In the first regular season game of NYCFC’s history, he scored the opening goal in Orlando. Days after, he sat in the front row of a New York Knicks game and received a huge ovation. “It made me blush,” he admits. “I’m not used to that kind of attention.”
“It’s amazing how quickly the city has embraced the team,” he adds. “I see NYCFC shirts everywhere. To be honest, I’ve seen more of them than I’ve seen shirts of other teams.”
Diskerud also hopes to help New Yorkers add to their own fashion collections with his own line of baseball caps. “When New Era heard about my cap collection, they reached out to see if I would be interested in a collaboration. We worked on a logo together. And actually, I worked really hard at it. Within a few weeks it was sold out and we’ve had to produce more. It’s great that it’s selling well, but for me, I’m just happy that people want to wear something that I’ve made.”
As soccer in America continues to grow more popular by the day, Mix is happy to be exactly where he is. “For the US Team, there’s a lot to look forward to,” he says. “In Copa America next summer, we’ll get to test ourselves against great teams like Brazil and Argentina. And here in New York, it’s only going to get better. There’s so much of the city that I haven’t seen. I can’t wait for friends to come visit, so I can be their guide to the city. I want to show them my new home.”