BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Mix Diskerud is not planning on becoming the next Landon Donovan.
He just hopes to have a role in filling the void the U.S. men’s national team will have to address going forward.
There’s something fitting that in Donovan’s final international appearance for the U.S. last week against Ecuador, he started a sequence that led to a goal by Diskerud, who was issued Donovan’s No. 10 jersey for this year’s World Cup.
And now Diskerud will get another chance to impress, as the post-Donovan era for the Americans gets under way in an exhibition against Honduras on Tuesday night.
“It was definitely memorable,” Diskerud said of his goal in the 1-1 draw against Ecuador on Friday, his fourth in 22 international appearances. “It was Landon’s last game, and it was fun to be a part of that, an honor. Turned around, he was the first one I saw, gave him a huge hug and he was a part of the goal. It was fun.”
It seemed appropriate that Donovan and Diskerud were part of what became the final goal the best scorer in U.S. men’s history would be a part of on the international stage. Diskerud made the U.S. team that went to Brazil for the World Cup. Donovan didn’t, and Diskerud wound up getting his number — though actually didn’t appear in any of the U.S. matches during the tournament.
Diskerud said he has no qualms about not seeing action in Brazil. The U.S. is already looking forward to the challenges of the next four years, which doesn’t leave the Norwegian-American midfielder any time to lament what might have been.
“Not difficult at all. It was huge to be part of the whole group,” Diskerud said. “It’s not only on the field you contribute, it’s off the field, the training sessions and everything. I feel I was a big part of the group and I learned from the best. Hopefully I’ll be a bigger part going forward.”
That’s what the mission these days is for the U.S., finding the new names that will play roles going forward and can mesh with longtime stalwarts of the program like Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore — who will be playing Tuesday in his hometown — and Michael Bradley.
“It’s the evolution of a team, especially of a national team,” Bradley said. “Somebody like Mix who has had the experience of being around for a few years now starts to get asked to take a bigger role.”
Diskerud’s mother is from Arizona and his father is from Norway. Diskerud played for Norway’s Under-18 and Under-19 teams before deciding to represent the U.S. going forward.
“Mix is growing,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “I think the message to him after the World Cup was: If you want to break into this team as a starter one day, you’ve got to step it up. You have to become more aggressive. You have to challenge more one-against-one situations. You have to become physical. And can he play? Absolutely. Does he have tremendous vision? Yes. But he needs these other elements on the international stage to break through.”
When Diskerud plays, the Americans are 17-1-4.
“More than anything it’s so the young guys get some experience and get the opportunity to be on the field,” Bradley said. “It’s early on in the cycle. We’re trying to find some consistency and continuity.”
Diskerud might become more of a name in the U.S. soon. He’s currently playing for Rosenborg, a traditional power in Norwegian soccer, but there has been speculation that he could wind up in Major League Soccer next year.
“I’m playing for Rosenborg, I’m focused on that and the national team now going forward,” Diskerud said. “I know my advisers and agents have a dialogue with the club in Norway, and we’ll see what happens.”
NOTES: Klinsmann said MF Joe Gyau, who injured a meniscus Friday, needs surgery and is likely to be sidelined until January. ... The Americans are 12-0-2 in their last 14 matches on U.S. soil. ... Tuesday is a homecoming for both Altidore and Alejandro Bedoya, a native of nearby Weston. Altidore still maintains a home in Boca Raton and isn’t sure how many friends and family will be attending the match at Florida Atlantic University. “A lot,” he said. ... Jermaine Jones, who had a memorable goal for the U.S. against Portugal in the World Cup, is with the national team for the first time since signing with New England.