Just over a year ago, the United States beat the defending World Champions in a friendly, 2-1, in Germany. The U.S. scored perhaps the best goal of the Jurgen Klinsmann era during that match. A thirty pass sequence eventually ended with Mix Diskerud receiving a Michael Bradley cross-field ball, taking a perfect touch, and scoring with a fantastic finish.
Turn the clock forward to current day and Diskerud's standing at both the international and club level is a far cry from that triumphant day. He was omitted from the USA's final 23-man roster for the Copa America Centenario and is even finding it difficult to make the 18 on match days for Patrick Vieira's New York City FC. Rumors of a potential move out of the Big Apple have cropped up over recent weeks, but his inflated salary makes him almost immovable within the confines of MLS' salary cap structure.
The Norwegian-American seems to be caught in quite the dilemma. If he ever has a chance to get back into Klinsmann's good graces with the national team he'll have to find success at the club level. It seems like at this point if that success is ever going to return it will require a move away from NYCFC. Without a club willing to bring on his robust salary, he's very much in a no-win situation.
So, how did we end up here?
Major League Soccer began shifting their transfer focus to acquire relevant and noteworthy American players at any cost in the fall of 2013. Clint Dempsey was brought in from Tottenham Hotspur because he needed a move that gave him playing time. MLS thought it would be wise to overpay for him and bring him in to help the league. Michael Bradley followed soon after when his playing time at AS Roma dried up. Then Jozy Altidore followed a year later.
Enter Mix Diskerud to NYCFC. Despite being a role player for the USMNT, Mix has always been a fan favorite. His technical style has been one that many thought would develop into more and possibly make him a star for the national team in a creative role. That career progression never came, but he's still remained a valuable role player through the years for the national team.
However, MLS didn't see it that way. They saw a chance to bring in a fan favorite to help one of their brand new teams and they took it. Offering Diskerud a $750,000 a year salary, the league and NYCFC placed a target on his back and expectations skyrocketed.
The allure of "Mix" increased from cult status to mainstream and the jig was soon found out. After a year of mediocre production with NYCFC, it soon became apparent that Diskerud is not worth the inflated salary he was being paid. With an already crowded midfield that included Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, and the underpaid-but-highly-productive Tommy McNamara, Diskerud's playing time completely evaporated leaving him in his current conundrum.
If life was fair and all players were judged equally, Mix would be known as a player who can help a team by keeping possession, picking out passes, and being a facilitator from defense to attack. Once expectations began to rise and he was expected to become a star player, the disappointment was inevitable.
Diskerud's playing status declining is more a product of others expecting him to be something he's not than it is a decline in form. Is that fair to him? Who knows. It's just the reality we live in. Until he finds a team willing to rescue him from his current predicament and let him be the role player he is, his problems will continue.