Over the last two years, Mix Diskerud has become one of the top United States men's national team players. And as many will note, he is quite the hit with the fans of the USMNT as well.
The midfielder joined New York City FC during the Major League Soccer offseason and has gotten off to a strong start in manager Jason Kreis' system.
One of the things the 24-year-old enjoys about his new club is the former Real Salt Lake boss' style of play.
“I definitely like his style of playing," Diskerud told Bleacher Report after Friday's training session. "He wants to go through the ground, fast-paced on the ball and one-two touch. That’s the way I think soccer should be played."
Diskerud received some tips about Kreis from two of his USMNT teammates before he moved to the Big Apple from Rosenborg BK in Norway.
"I had Kyle (Beckerman) and Nick (Rimando) say nothing but good things about him before I got here, so I was very confident that he was a great coach," the midfielder said.
Beckerman and Rimando, who are still at RSL, thrived under the tutelage of Kreis, who was in charge from 2007-2013 before joining NYCFC a year before it took the pitch for its first game.
Kreis' managerial style also helps the NYCFC players on the smallest field in MLS at Yankee Stadium, which measures 68 yards wide from the outfield to near the pitcher's mound.
While some may see the dimensions of the baseball ground as an obstacle, Diskerud opts to look at it in a different manner.
“It’s one of the smallest pitches I’ve played on, but it’s fun to have challenges when you’re a soccer player. I don’t mind it whatsoever," Diskerud said. "But it’s definitely a different style of play you have to adapt to. It’s not a problem for us. (Kreis' style) is going to help. The quicker the ball goes, the better it is when you play on a small pitch."
“We talked some but not a lot about soccer," Diskerud said of his discussions with the England legend.
"It was more like, 'How are things going out in Manchester?' We're going to welcome him when he comes here, but right now we gotta focus on ourselves."
The focus on working on his individual game is a key for Diskerud. Despite featuring for the Yanks on a frequent basis since 2013, the member of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup squad is still developing as a player.
“I’m 24 years old, so I’m trying to get better for every day and every week that goes by. Everybody around me can help me develop as well," he said.
His focus is also currently centered on Saturday's clash with the Philadelphia Union, who could turn into one of NYCFC's local rivals in time.
"Derbies are healthy, and there’s a lot of excitement around it. We want to create those derbies with teams that are in our radius," the midfielder said.
NYCFC and Philadelphia will also play at Yankee Stadium on April 16 in the second of their three meetings this season.
As for his time off the field, Diskerud is adapting to a new home after spending the majority of his life in Norway.
"Coming to a new continent, a new country is of course different. Even though I’m American, I’ve never really lived here; so it’s exciting, and I’m really happy to be a part of this group," he said.
Diskerud gained eligibility to play for the United States because his mother is from Arizona. He also had the option of playing for Norway.
Living in a new country may be different for him, but the attention he has received has remained the same.
Although he didn't expect a ton of attention from USMNT fans at the start of his international career, Diskerud has embraced it.
"(The attention caught me off guard) a little bit. It was new to me. The hair is almost getting more attention than me. I really enjoy it, and it’s been really nice. Everybody’s been good to me."
Now that he's playing in MLS, more fans will get to know Diskerud for his game as well as his hair, which he jokes he is never allowed to cut.
"There’s a lot of cool people out there that I'm enjoying interacting with," he said. "I can’t wait to go around to different cities and play. I see on Twitter and Instagram: People who cheer for me aren’t going to cheer for me that specific day when I play against their team, but they still cheer for me in the other games. It’s fun, and I can’t wait to go around and experience the States."
If everything works out in his favor for both club and country, the praise surrounding Diskerud will only continue to grow.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.