New York City FC announced on Thursday that it has exercised its option to buy out the contract of U.S. international midfielder Mix Diskerud.
MLS rules stipulate that a team can buy out one guaranteed contract per year, and since NYCFC notified the league prior to the March 1 roster compliance deadline, Diskerud's contract -- which last year saw him earn $761,250 -- will not count against the team's salary budget.
However, the team will still be obligated to pay Diskerud his salary, at least for the present, meaning that the particulars of the buyout arrangement between NYCFC and Diskerud are yet to be worked out.
NYCFC's announcement made no mention of whether Diskerud had been waived. If the club had done so, Diskerud would have landed with the team willing to absorb the biggest hit to their salary cap. But one source with knowledge of the situation indicated that Diskerud's contract contained a clause that prevented NYCFC from waiving him.
Diskerud now finds himself in a state of limbo. He's still getting paid and remains under contract with MLS, but he doesn't have a club.
His salary and guaranteed years, combined with some lackluster play, made him persona non grata in New York. It also made him virtually untradeable to another MLS team.
Diskerud's last appearance in a competitive match came on June 15 of last year, when NYCFC fell in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup to the NASL's New York Cosmos. In December, manager Patrick Vieira made it clear that the U.S. international wasn't in his future plans.
Diskerud wasn't with the team when it was training in Jacksonville during preseason. The midfielder later joined up with the club when it moved its training base to Tucson, Arizona, but he didn't participate in any preseason games.
Diskerud's agent, his father Paal Diskerud, didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment. NYCFC also declined to make the midfielder as well as sporting director Claudio Reyna available for interviews, though Diskerud did post a poem on Instagram expressing frustration over his situation.
The most likely path forward is that Diskerud finds a new club overseas, but how that would happen is still unclear. The two sides could agree on a lump sum payment and then terminate the contract, freeing Diskerud up to go find a new club. But much will depend on how much of the $1.5 million left on the contract NYCFC is willing to pick up. Another option is a full transfer, but that would likely see Diskerud take a significant pay cut.
With so much money remaining to be paid on the contract, a loan to a foreign club would make sense for both sides. It would allow Diskerud to still collect his salary, while also relieving NYCFC of at least some of its financial obligation to the player.
The transfer window for Norway, where Diskerud played previously with Stabaek and Rosenborg is March 31, and that's why there doesn't seem to be any rush on the part of NYCFC or the league to move the player to another club. One league source indicated that Diskerud might not find a new team until this summer.
For a player who was part of the U.S. roster for the 2014 World Cup, a resolution can't come soon enough.