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Diskerud backheel goal confirms Ulsan Hyundai place in AFC CL knockouts

Kawasaki Frontale v Ulsan Hyundai - AFC Champions League Group H

KAWASAKI, JAPAN - APRIL 23: (L-R) Dave Bulthuis #38 and Mix Diskerud #42 of Ulsan Hyundai react during the AFC Champions League Group H match Kawasaki Frontale and Ulsan Hyundai at Todoroki Stadium on April 23, 2019 in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

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South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai confirmed its place in the knockout stages of the 2019 AFC Champions League thanks to a 1-0 win over Sydney FC early Tuesday morning. The game’s only goal came in the 60th minute and it was scored by U.S. international Mix Diskerud in glittering fashion.

With the American at the Korean club on loan from Manchester City, Diskerud continued Ulsan Hyundai’s undefeated group stage with a backheel strike, taking a square cross from In-seong Kim and depositing it inside the far post despite his back to goal. The goal is Diskerud’s fourth with the club since joining in January and his first in the AFC Champions League.

The win for Ulsan clinched the top spot in Group G on 11 points through five matches, with Chinese side Shanghai SIPG in a distant second on six points. In fact, they have the second-most points of the entire group stage to this point, behind the 12 collected by Saudi side Al-Hilal, and they are one of just three unbeaten teams across the group stage.

Diskerud has been a regular in the Ulsan lineup, seeing the starting lineup in all but one of the club’s games since he joined. They have lost just three of those 16 matches, with Diskerud mostly playing a defensive midfield role.

At 28 years old Oslo-born American international is unlikely to see the Manchester City first team anytime soon, and his developmental years are behind him, but should Diskerud’s good club form continue wherever City desides to send him on loan, he could most certainly find himself in the mix for a place in the USMNT squad as Gregg Berhalter continues to reorganize the international setup with a view towards the 2022 World Cup. Michael Bradley consistently occupies the holding midfield role even at 31 years old, but should Berhalter want depth at that position, Diskerud would undoubtedly be an option should he continue see consistent minutes and perform at his club.

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