MIDFIELDER Mix Diskerud scored the first goal in New York City Football Club's history on March 8, the team's MLS debut. The quick two-touch strike from just inside the penalty box curved around Orlando City Soccer Club goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, the sort of clinical finish that NYCFC fans will likely soon come to expect. "Scoring that goal felt amazing," Diskerud says. "I didn't have too much time, but I think I got Ricketts off guard because I scooped it kind of quick."
Quick feet and ballhandling are Diskerud's calling cards. The son of an American (mom) and a Norwegian (dad), he grew up in Oslo with a ball at his feet—often a soccer ball, but it as easily could have been a handball or a tennis ball. "I would always be playing, juggling, doing different tricks," Diskerud says. His mom, who gave him the nickname Mix, short for Mikkel, endured the collateral damage. At least, he says, "as I got better, I would break less."
The constant juggling has led Diskerud, 24, to a prominent spot on the U.S. national team, where he puts a more typically American background to use: basketball. "I played point guard until I was 15 or 16, and I really do think that helped me," the 6-foot, 156-pound Diskerud says. "That was where I learned to see different parts of the game and to assist other players in scoring."
On the pitch, Diskerud models his game after his idol, Italian playmaker Andrea Pirlo. And he continues to develop his footwork, juggling anything he can get his feet on while trying not to break things. "The process never ends," Diskerud says. "You can always be better."
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TONY QUINN/ICON SPORTSWIRE (DISKERUD)
JASON LEE (ILLUSTRATIONS)