By Paul Kennedy
For a lot of players, January camp is not their idea of fun. Getting up
early. Two-a-days. Sometimes three-a-days. Lots of running. Yes, it's Southern California, but the weather is often overcast in January. Mix
, on the other hand, can't say enough good things about the camp that kicks off the men's national team campaign. If the choice is Southern California or Norway in January, well ...
"Playing in Scandinavia, you always have an opportunity to be in January camp," says the 24-year-old midfielder who attended his third straight U.S. men's national team winter camp. "I love
this camp. It's tough. It's long. But you saw in the World Cup, this is what brings us together when you have these periods where you have two or three sessions every day. You can grab your teammates
and get them back up. It showed at the World Cup. Because of those things, we can play well."
Diskerud attended January camp during the winter offseason with his Norwegian club Rosenborg
in 2013 and 2014, but he headed to this year's camp days after signing with MLS expansion club New York City FC. While he was born and raised in Norway to a Norwegian father and American mother, he
spent his summers as a child visiting his mother's family in Arizona.
"It will be the first time living in the States," he says. "I can't wait. People are telling me New York is a good
place to start. My family is in Phoenix. It is still five six hours for them to fly out, but hopefully they will come out to watch some games."
Speaking before the USA headed to Chile for
Wednesday's friendly, Diskerud said he knew little about New York and was relying on Google maps to start his search for a place to live. The one thing he wants to do in New York is continue his
“I studied business in Norway at a university, and obviously there are a lot of good schools in New York,” he said Tuesday. “I’ve been checking out some
places I would want to continue that schoolwork because I want to do things off the pitch.”
Diskerud left Rosenborg as a free agent.
“I wanted something new," he
says of the move to NYCFC. "[U.S. national coach] Jurgen [Klinsmann
] always talks about going out of your comfort zone. This is definitely not a comfort zone
for me. I’ve never played here before. I was looking forward also to playing among players who had experienced a lot: definitely Frank Lampard
, David Villa
. There is probably a lot they can show me [about] how to play really good football.”
Diskerud is only 24 but is already entering his
seventh pro season. He spent three seasons at Stabaek and three more at Rosenborg with half a season at Gent in Belgium in between. NYCFC will be his fourth club. His easy-going personality makes him
popular in the locker room.
“It’s usually difficult to remember one or two people’s names," he said. "I have to remember a lot of people’s names, and everybody has
to do that. We have to go from not being friends, because I haven’t met them, to being good teammates, good friends who can do everything for each other before the season starts.”
After games against Chile and Panama back in Carson, Diskerud will only have a few days in New York before he flies off with NYCFC for the second leg of preseason training in England. Bouncing
back and forth between NYCFC and the national team is something Diskerud is looking forward to this season.
“It’s not only this year," he said. "The next three, four years,
there will be a lot of games, a lot of tournaments, which is awesome. I want to be in every single camp possible. Start with January camp. I want to show what I can do, show I’m fit when I come
in. I want to help the youngsters who are here for the first or second team, but, obviously, we have a lot of important games moving forward and we want to develop, of course, as a team. You
always want to try to do that.”
The big test for the USA in 2015 is its Gold Cup title defense in July. Diskerud was part of the team that won the 2013 championship, where he broke
through and caught Klinsmann's attention. His focus is to make the 23-player squad for this summer's tournament.
“For me," he said, "it was kind of the Gold Cup two years ago that I
really came into the group and I felt like I was a part of the U.S. men’s national team. For me, it was a huge thing. I can’t wait.”