US SoccerUS Soccer Chats with U.S. Men's National Team Midfielder Mikkel Diskerud What kind of soccer culture did you grow up with in Oslo?
Mikkel Diskerud: “Every day I would play with my friends after school. It was soccer, soccer, soccer. Norway is a football country so it was everywhere for me growing up.” So how did you get involved with Stabaek?
MD: “My coach saw me play for my first youth club Frigg (Frigg is a Norse god). We talked and he asked if I wanted to join the Stabaek academy system. Actually, it was funny, the last game I played for Frigg was against Stabaek, and I scored an own goal. So after that, I went to Stabaek, and from there just worked my way up their ranks.” Now that you’re with their senior team, you’ve been able to play in some pretty big games for Stabaek. How does experience in those games help you here?
“Well, I think it makes me a little less nervous to play in this tournament, but I think nerves are sometimes good to have. But, I got to play in Nou Mestalla against Valencia, and that was a huge deal for me, so it helps to have been in those situations before and helps give me a little confidence with this team.” Obviously you haven’t spent too much time with this U.S. team, but how have you been fitting in with your teammates?
MD: “These guys have been great. Everybody always backs each other up. It’s been easy to come in and mesh with this group. I’ve been in camps twice before, once in Portugal and once in Egypt and a lot of these players were there, but really, they’re great. They’re easy to be around. We joke around a lot and we’re the same age, so we think alike.” How would you describe your style of play?
MD: “I try to be creative with the ball, and I might not be the most aggressive player out there, but when I come into this group everyone is so determined to do their best for the U.S. and that helps me. It makes me want to do my best.” How do you make sure to connect with your teammates on the field?
MD: “All good soccer players can find each other. If you’re here and going to the World Cup obviously you’re a pretty good player. We can find each other easily on the field, it hasn’t been a problem.” How do you think your team will do in Egypt?
MD: “If we give it our all, I think we have a chance to go far. Football has a lot of slim margins and if we get those on our side. I think we can do well in Egypt.” How excited are you for the event?
MD: “Well, this is the second biggest FIFA event I think, the first obviously the World Cup and the second is the U-20s. There is a lot of excitement surrounding it, even just loving the game of soccer. Being able to play in a World Cup and represent the United States will be a highlight of my career, and of my life. I look forward to experiencing Egypt, as a country and as a football culture. I’m excited for people to attend games and just to be with my teammates. I love that team sports allow you to win and celebrate and enjoy things with other people.” Who is your favorite team?
MD: “Right now, it is Barcelona. They play better football than many other clubs in Europe. I never had a team that I have always loved growing up, but I used to like Manchester United when Ryan Giggs was in his prime. (Andres) Iniesta and (Andrea) Pirlo are definitely my two favorite players.” What do you do when you’re not playing soccer?
MD: “My friends are very important to me, and my parents. We just talk and have a good time. We go out to eat a lot and hang around and have fun. That’s important to me, because as a soccer player, even though it’s a full time job, you have a lot of spare time. It’s important to me to not be playing PlayStation or Xbox the rest of the day. So, I do a little bit of schooling and just hang with my friends. I’m also getting settled into a new apartment in Oslo, which is exciting.” A new apartment and moving out on your own usually raises the question: have you learned to cook?
MD: “Well, kind of. I have to get used to it and not get into the habit of not just ordering pizza or something! It’s a good situation though because one of my teammates is living with me. I’ve gotten pretty good at making omelets, but I’m still working on the cooking skills.”