Mix Diskerud the 'right player' for Jason Kreis' New York City FC
LAUDERHILL, Fla. -- As Jason Kreis walked up the steps from the field at Central Broward Regional Park, a rare smile creased his face. Mix Diskerud was officially unveiled as an NYCFC player on Tuesday, putting in place another critical piece in the New York manager's roster puzzle.
"Today's one day to smile, at least for another 30 minutes," Kreis joked in between games on the last day of the MLS Player Combine.
Without question, the NYCFC manager had every reason to be delighted, especially given the skill and versatility of his most recent acquisition.
"I couldn't be happier, [Diskerud] is such an exciting and dynamic player," he said. "He's the type of player that [given] the direction that we're going in, fits exactly with what we're trying to do."
Kreis confirmed that Diskerud will not be a Designated Player, allowing NYCFC to use its third and final DP slot at a later date. Kreis added that he's not banking on the rumored Super Max DP slot coming to pass. Rather he's planning as if the salary cap structure will be similar to what it is now, with the current CBA negotiations yielding a modest increase. For that reason, the club will utilize an undisclosed amount of allocation money to reduce the U.S. international's cap hit.
The signing of Diskerud ends a long courtship between league and player that had seen previous attempts by the Portland Timbers and the Columbus Crew end in failure. Kreis said his pursuit of Diskerud began about a month ago, but that he was a player who the club had been watching for more than a year since it was well known that the U.S. international's contract with Norwegian side Rosenborg was set to expire.
At first glance, Diskerud would seem to be a less than perfect fit for MLS given how physical the league can be at times. But the NYCFC midfielder has shown steady progress in that regard during recent appearances with the U.S. national team. With U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann making no secret of his desire to see Diskerud add even more physicality to his game, the style of MLS just may force the player to adapt in a way that will result in more success at international level.
"The exciting thing for me is that Diskerud takes those [suggestions] on board," Kreis said. "He wants to develop his game, and he certainly knows that he's not a finished product, and is looking to develop his game, and I'm excited to be a part of that."
Kreis added, "If there's one thing you can say about MLS, it's a physical game out there," he said. "Guys aren't afraid to put their foot in an make challenges. Diskerud is going to have to deal with that and learn how to do it himself."
Kreis indicated that Diskerud's signing will have no bearing on the decisions NYCFC will make regarding Thursday's draft, though he did indicate that the club intends to keep the No. 2 overall pick.
In terms of a third DP, Kreis said that the team has every intention of using the last slot, but that he wouldn't be rushed into anything, and that there was no need to use the spot prior to the start of the season.
"We're not going to add any player, Designated Player or regular player, because we're against some timeline," he said. "That would be a faulty decision. We're going to have the right player and the right DP."
As of Tuesday, Kreis has one more "right player."
Status quo -- for now -- regarding Defoe, Altidore and TFC
Toronto FC manager Greg Vanney said the situation with Jermain Defoe "seems like it changes every 15 minutes. I can't keep track." Vanney added that there were new scenarios and new clubs entering the conversation every day. Given how in flux the situation is, Vanney says the plan is for Defoe to still to report to Toronto when training camp opens.
"The scenario that changes things [for Defoe] hasn't really been finalized, so we'll see where that goes," he said.
Vanney added that in terms of Jozy Altidore, TFC is waiting on the league to complete the negotiations.
"It's the league that is driving that process to get [Altidore] signed," he said.
Sarvas on the block?
It still to be determined if the LA Galaxy will swoop in and grab U.S. midfielder Sacha Kljestan from the likes of the New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union. But if it does happen, then it looks like the midfield partnership of Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho will be broken up.
Sources confirmed a Goal.com report that Sarvas would likely have to be sacrificed, since there simply wouldn't be enough available minutes in midfield now that Steven Gerrard has come on board. One source indicated that LA was trying to work a deal to acquire the top spot in the allocation order in order to acquire Kljestan. With Diskerud's signing now official, the top spot belongs to the Montreal Impact. Montreal head coach Frank Klopas confirmed that several teams had inquired about the top spot, but he had no "official" offers.
"There's just been interest by multiple teams," he said.
One source said that Sarvas would want to receive a significant raise over his current salary of $192,500 if does leave L.A., though the fact that he has one year left on his contract is a major impediment to such an event taking place.
Several MLS head coaches said that they would be interested in acquiring Sarvas if he were made available, with San Jose's Dominic Kinnear among the Brazilian's admirers.
"We've had no discussions with L.A. regarding Sarvas," he said. "But I think he's performed very well over the years, and if he became available and they were willing to put his name out there, I think he's a player who could help many teams in this league."
Impact standing pat in draft
While Klopas entertains offers for the top allocation spot, he indicated that -- for the moment at least -- his intention is to hang on to its lone pick, the No. 3 selection overall. Klopas said he was confident he can find a player who can help an Impact side that finished dead last in the league last year.
"We're in a position where we're adding one or two more high-level players to our team," he said. "I think we're looking at [the pick] more from a positional standpoint. We have targeted at least the top three players that we want, and then we'll go from there depending on what happens in front of us." Orlando and New York have the first two selections.
Heavy rains made for a damp final day of the combine, but overall the level of play showed steady improvement from the first two game days. In the first match, Team AdiZero fell behind early to Team Predator, with Zach Steinberger tallying after 18 minutes. At which point, AdiZero rallied for five goals. Cal-Irvine forward Cameron Iwasa scored twice, while New Mexico's James Rogers, St. Louis University's Kingsley Bryce and Providence midfielder Fabio Machado also scoring.
The match also amounted to a bit of redemption for highly-touted defender Martin Del Campo. The UC Davis product had struggled during the first two days, and while he still had a few hiccups, he smoothed out some of the rough edges and even assisted on Bryce's goal.
In the day's second match, a 39th-minute goal from Christian Volesky courtesy of an assist by Akeil Barrett saw the Nitro Charge team prevail over the Nativo side. Barrett finished the combine as one of the players who helped his cause the most.
Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.