Mikkel Diskerud is ready for qualifying 

November, 7, 2011

There's probably no one more anxious to kick off the 2012 Olympic qualifying process than Mikkel Diskerud. The midfielder is so eager to play a part in the Olympic tournament that when he renewed his contract with Norwegian club Stabaek last year, he went so far as to demand a clause guaranteeing his release for qualifiers in the spring.

"[I feel] fantastic," he said in an email exchange over the weekend. "This better be the best thing I have ever been involved in. And if it isn't, I hope I am the only one to blame."

So Mix (that's right -- one "X," no matter how you see it spelled elsewhere) is ready. And he's hoping the USSF takes the process as seriously as he has, by viewing the Olympics as a chance for this American generation to catapult itself to the forefront of the international soccer world.

"Great soccer nations like Brazil, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and Argentina are all examples of nations which have historically focused on their Olympic teams and had success," Diskerud said. "Sometimes the Italian, Spanish and different German teams have as well. I hope our age bracket in the United States is given the same kind of opportunity."

With a roster that could potentially include him alongside a slew of full national team veterans, the Americans look to have a solid enough squad to make some serious noise. But first, they'll have to navigate the dangerous qualifying waters -- where making it to the Olympics comes down to a one-off semifinal match, potentially against Mexico. And the U.S. will have to do it without many of their other Europe-based players, since qualifying falls outside of FIFA match dates.

Should they make it to London, however, the U.S. will not only be closer to full strength, but will also have the option of strengthening the squad with three overage players. Diskerud, who should be a leader in the midfield throughout qualifying, would like to see the USSF take full advantage of that possibility: "I want to be on the team, make no doubt about it. But if someone would make the team stronger by me getting thrown out, then that is how it should be. However, I would hate to see this Olympic campaign be anything less than the most competitive [team] we can assemble."

When we previewed the U-23/20 camp roster last Monday, we had a few questions about the roster that would be answered with its release. Now we have some answers.

How will U-23s who have seen time with the full national team be used?

Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for ESPN.com. Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.