For Columbus Crew SC fans, it was a major letdown. Just over a year ago, Crew SC sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter announced that U.S. National Team midfielder Mix Diskerud, who the team had publicly been targeting, would not be joining the club.
"We went after it," Berhalter said of Diskerud last August as the transfer window closed. "We went after it aggressively, and we thought, ‘This is something that's going to help the team, it's going to help the league.' Because, quite honestly, how many guys are coming the other way entering the prime of their career? We thought this was a great step for us, and we were there. We were right there."
At the end of the day, the deal broke down and the Norwegian-American remained with his club, Rosenborg.
While Diskerud didn't come to Columbus, the attempt at signing Diskerud showed intent from new owner Anthony Precourt. When the right player is identified, Precourt is willing to splash the cash, but it has to be the ideal player.
It also marked a learning experience for Berahlter. During the buildup, the head coach announced that the deal was essentially done. When things fell apart, he had to go back on what he said. In only his third year as a head coach, the Diskerud fiasco taught him a lesson.
"That's not the coaching side of it, that's the sporting director side of it," Berhalter said this week while reflecting on the Diskerud deal. "I think I learned a lot from that deal. That was a lot of hours being awake and doing the deal obviously because of the time difference.
"I did learn a lot. I think most importantly you learn that if in the end, if it breaks down over such a small amount, then you have to question if the person wanted to be here or not. And then you can live with the results."
In January, 2015 Major League Soccer expansion club New York City FC announced the signing of Diskerud. It meant that at some point Mix would make his Columbus debut, as he will on Wednesday when City comes to twon, but it would be in the sky blue of NYCFC instead of the black & gold of Crew SC.
"He's a solid piece to a team," Berhalter said of Diskerud on City. "He's a guy that has very good passing, very good movement off the ball, and I think that he's going to grow into his role even more."
While it was a disappointment to miss out on the addition of the U.S. midfielder, Columbus saved the money they would have spent and eventually redirected it in another, more useful, player.
"We wouldn't have gotten Kei if we would have gotten [Mix]," Berhalter said this week.
While Precourt is willing to spend for the right player, the club would not have been capable of going after another guy. As Crew SC already had an established central midfield of Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani, a move for a forward like Kei Kamara made more sense.
And boy has that transfer worked out.
Although Kamara wasn't there for the Black & Gold's playoff run a year ago as Diskerud would have been, the forward is here now and has already set career marks.
Through 24 games played this season, Kamara has already scored an MLS-best 17 goals and added five assists. With 10 games remaining for Crew SC, Kamara's current pace would put him at 24 goals on the year, two shy of the club record of 26 set by Stern John in 1998.
In retrospect, the move for Kamara made more sense than the one for Diskerud. Although Kamara isn't a U.S. international and may not draw fans like Diskerud could have, he has shored up a forward position that was in flux throughout 2014.
"I think that we made out okay," Berhalter said. "Mix is a good player, but we have Kei now so we're happy where that ended up."