BRENT LATHAM - Monday, June 8, 2009
As the Norwegian league heats up heading into the long days of summer, so too has Mikkel Diskerud, who has scored three goals this season, the last coming in Stabaek's 2-0 victory on June 1.
The sometimes American, sometimes Norwegian U-20 international says he is pleased to be helping his team so much early this season.
"First of all this was like a learning season for me, but now as days have gone by it's more like I'm helping my team," the Arizona native says. "I didn't think I'd be helping my team as much as I have now."
Diskerud says he has already surpassed his preseason goals, and now will look to establish himself even more firmly in his coach's plans.
"My goals for the season were to get like four or five substitute appearances," the sometimes American, sometimes Norwegian U-20 international admitted. "But now I've started two games and I've been coming in in almost every match."
Defending champions Stabaek have needed all the help Diskerud could offer this season, suffering through some early setbacks before climbing back to near the top half of the standings
"Right now we're in ninth place," Diskerud points out. "It was a really important victory that we had [in our last match], and going into the break we have it was important that we got a little self esteem."
The 18-old midfielder sounded proud as he described his goal, which came by chance, but involved a good deal of skill.
"I tried to flick it to a teammate," Diskerud says of the play that resulted in the insurance goal in the 2-0 win. "I failed at that and the ball was headed back to me. I brought it down with my chest and I took it on the volley from about 18 yards into the back of the net at the far post."
This year, Diskerud has started two matches and made the rest of his appearances as a substitute, usually as an attacking midfielder. He says he was slated to start again over the weekend before a late technical change.
"I was going to start the game but one of our better players recovered from injury so he started the game," he explains.
With Norway's MLS-like scheduling, Stabaek has two thirds of the season remaining. Stabaek, as last year's defending champions, will appear in the Champions League this year, beginning play in August.
"It's a good thing for us that we're in our season so the rest of the teams in Europe might not be in full match shape when we meet them," the American midfielder said of the early Champions League matches.
As for the burning question on the minds of fans of Team USA, Diskerud could only offer a few hints as far as progress in determining his ultimate national team allegiance. He says he recently turned down a chance to play for the Norway U-19s in qualifying for the UEFA championships.
"They already played and I said no to that," he said, adding that there was little chance of him suiting up for a Norwegian side anytime soon. "My team said no, and I didn't play for them. They didn't qualify for further events."
Diskerud and Stabaek resume their season June 14th when they travel to fourth place Valerenga.