Mix Diskerud, a Norwegian-born midfielder for the New York City Football Club, visited Brooklyn in early May to surprise two youth soccer teams with familiar sounding names: Team Mix 8’s and Team Diskerud 10’s. These teams are part of a club with Norwegian roots called Sporting Club Gjoa that has been playing in Brooklyn since 1911.
Historically the club has named its teams after famous Norwegian players, and this year the coaches challenged the players to choose their teams’ names. One of the players came up with the idea to call their squad Team Mix. Then, kids from a different team started arguing that they wanted to change the name of their team, and Team Diskerud was born.
The players on Team Mix and Team Diskerud are huge fans of Mix — he signed autographs for them — and were extremely excited to meet him.
Mix actually participated in their games, playing for one team and then the other. He then organized a shootout where he was the goalie, and a few lucky kids scored on him. These kids then became goalie while Mix shot on them, and Mix scored on each of the boys.
The kids had a wonderful time playing with their favorite player. Mix then gave them tickets to see NYCFC play the Chicago Fire, and they gave him Brooklyn Bagels and a Gjoa shirt; one little boy made Mix a friendship bracelet, which the soccer player put right on.
Before Mix and I enjoyed a Brooklyn ice cream to cap off the afternoon, I had a chance to sit down and ask him some questions.
Have you ever surprised kids on a soccer field before?
I’ve done it a few times. But I’ve never had teams named after me before!
Who influenced you to start playing soccer?
In Norway everyone plays soccer. I love every type of ball sport. But I am most passionate about soccer. After school and during school I would play with my buddies all the time.
Do you have any role models?
I would say the player I enjoy watching the most is [Andrea] Pirlo. I don’t really have any idols or role models.
You have dual citizenship because your mother is an American. What made you choose to play for the U.S. National Team instead of for Norway?
It was mostly that the U.S. National Team picked me. I played for both teams growing up, but before the Gold Cup game, [U.S. coach] Jürgen Klinsmann called me and wanted me to come play for the U.S. It was difficult to say no!
How does it feel to play soccer in Yankee Stadium instead of in a regular soccer stadium?
It is incredible! Yankee Stadium is a historic place. To play there in front of 40,000 people, I get a huge adrenalin rush when I go out onto the field. To play in front of so many fans is a lot of fun.
Is the Yankee Stadium field (or pitch) the same or different from a regular soccer field?
It is a little bit smaller than a regular pitch because it is a baseball field. But nothing too crazy!
Do you have any advice for young athletes?
My advice is if you want to be a top athlete, train and have fun with the sport. Just watch the sport on TV, and when you have a chance, go out and have fun playing. And do it as often as you can. As long as you have fun with it, you will get better and better. Eat right and do your homework — it helps as well!
Have you ever met someone else with the name or nickname Mix?
No, I have never met someone with the name or nickname Mix. But after everyone found out I had the nickname, a lot of pets have been named Mix…from dogs to cats and mice.
Photos: New York City FC (action), Riley Neubauer (interview)