When we last saw the United States Men’s National Team in action, the midfield duo of Kyle Beckerman and Mix Diskerud seemed on track for spots at this summer’s World Cup. The Real Salt Lake anchor’s lock on a spot in Brazil looked even more certain, while Diskerud continued to build on Gold Cup performances that distinguished him from some of the other midfielders vying for places behind Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones.
But Diskerud’s spot as a midfielder who can provide a presence in the space behind the forwards puts him in a more tenuous position than Beckerman, who provides a distinct option as a holder in front of the defense. With Sacha Kljestan set to join the U.S. ahead of Wednesday’ match against Ukraine, the now withdrawn Diskerud has one obvious competitor he needs to beat out.
That’s not to say the competition is only among those two players. With Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Graham Zusi’s ability to play high in midfield, Klinsmann has a number of options that could fill that spot, should the U.S. want to play with formations or roles. Options like Alejandro Bedoya, Brad Davis, Joe Corona, and Brek Shea are also in the mix for the team’s last handful of midfield spots. With impressive camps, players like Bedoya and Shea could elevate their profiles.
(MORE: Michael Bradley, Mix Diskerud, Tim Ream withdrawn from United States’ squad for Wednesday vs. Ukraine)
Whether somebody can pass Diskerud in this pecking order is another question, but that risk makes Diskerud’s Saturday withdrawal more important than Michael Bradley’s or Tim Ream’s. Bradley is going to Brazil, no doubt. And Ream was always going to stay home unless he had a remarkable camp. Diskerud, on the other hand, needed to continue his strong play through Wednesday’s match in Cyprus, preferably into the pre-World Cup camp that starts in May.
Diskerud’s spot isn’t going to be lost in the next five days, but now his stock is destined to stay flat this week. That opens the door for a players like Kljestan (or Bedoya, Shea, or even a Danny Williams).
That little bit of momentum that Diskerud build after spending January with Klinsmann? Maybe a different set of players carry that into May. Maybe, as Klinsmann is deciding who gets on that final flight to Brazil, some memory from this week’s camp sways his decision.
Then again, Diskerud may be going no matter what.