The pair work on a banana plantation and play soccer on a local team. Beto is a hardened rough player, while Tato dreams of becoming a singer.
Since Diego Luna Soccer signed with RSL, a vocal group of fans have complained about his lack of first-team game time. The criticism is fair.
Recruited by El Paso Locomotive FC
Diego Luna was a major find for Locomotive F.C., who signed the Barca Residency Academy midfielder to his first professional contract last season. The 17-year-old California native has been one of the best players in the USL Championship this year and even spent time with the United States U-20 team. Now, he’s on his way to a bigger stage.
Real Salt Lake has acquired the youngster from Locomotive for a reported record transfer fee in league history. The club is currently in third place in the Western Conference after 14 matches, and Luna will help them continue their good start to the season.
Several European clubs were interested in acquiring Luna, but RSL made the most sense, given their youth development pipeline and European connections for any future move. The deal will also allow the club to retain a portion of any future sell-on fee that Luna generates, per Bogart.
As for Luna, he’s excited to get started. “I’m just looking forward to being on the field and helping the team win,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep up the pace as much as possible.”
In his first match with RSL, he started and played 84 minutes in a 0-0 draw against Vancouver Whitecaps F.C. 2 in MLS NEXT Pro. He created two chances for the team and even scored a goal, his first in the big leagues.
It wasn’t just his debut that impressed RSL coaches, though. They were impressed with his performance during preseason training and in their regular season opener. “He’s just a special talent, and I think he will do great things,” RSL head coach John Hutchinson told The Striker Texas.
The addition of Luna allows the club to continue to reshape the city’s youth soccer landscape, with the potential of sending more kids to MLS. Locomotive’s youth programs are already a model for others in the city, and they want to do even more. Locomotive Director of Youth Soccer and Programs Colin Herlinger believes that adding Luna will bolster their efforts.
Signed by Real Salt Lake
Diego Luna is a young player who has the world at his feet. The midfielder nicknamed “Moon Boy” turned heads during his rookie season with Locomotive F.C., and he’s now one of the top youngsters in both the MLS and U.S. Youth National Team pools.
The 18-year-old has much to live up to, but he’s already taken the first step to becoming a major star. He’s signed with Real Salt Lake and could debut in the first team against Vancouver this Saturday.
While the move to MLS will bring a huge jump in competition, the youngster isn’t intimidated by the challenge ahead. He’s been working hard to improve his game since his arrival and has the potential to become a major contributor at the club, regardless of where he’s positioned on the field.
Luna was drafted in the fourth round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft by Real Salt Lake. He quickly impressed during the preseason and was named to the squad’s opening roster for the season.
The youngster was a spark off the bench during his first MLS outing. He made a big impression on the coaching staff and the fans with his direct style of play and ability to create scoring chances.
In a matter of weeks, he’s made his way to the starting lineup for RSL. He’s a key player for the club, and they’re counting on him to help them compete in a tough Western Conference.
Amid a strong class of youngsters in the RSL academy, Luna is one of the top candidates to make the big leap to the first team this season. He’ll compete with Jaziel Orozco and Maikel Chang for first-team minutes, but he has a bright future ahead of him.
Diego Luna is on the verge of something bigger than his humble beginnings in El Paso. The homegrown midfielder has quickly rocketed up the ranks to become one of the top prospects in both the MLS and USL youth national team pools. But he’s not looking to rest on his laurels.
The youngster is still learning his craft in the biggest league, but he’s making his presence felt on the field. He’s the kind of player that inspires teammates and fans alike. His dedication and work ethic has made him an unstoppable force in the midfield, and he’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
He’s a true playmaker who can find his ways to score and create. Luna’s innate talent has him in contention for the USL Championship Player of the Year award.
When the youngster signed with RSL last April, he did so to bring a trophy to the city. He certainly did that in his first season with the club, racking up nine goals and five assists while becoming a star in the city’s south side.
Luna’s impressive play in the 2021 campaign led to his signing a two-year contract with the Red, White and Blue. He’s been part of a lethal attack for the club since his arrival, but the most telling part of his progress may be how he has improved as a player.
In his last four games, he’s had an offensive contribution in all but one, tallying a combined ten goals and six assists. That includes an impressive three-point performance against Austin Bold F.C. on Thursday night. He started the game and played the full 90 minutes, scoring a goal and providing an assist to help RSL win 3-0.
While he’ll miss this weekend’s match against St. Louis and possibly next week’s match against Columbus, Luna will be back in the starting XI for RSL’s next home match against Chicago Fire. He’s a key part of a squad poised to make another run for the postseason, and he’s a big reason why.
Returns to Bench
Since Diego Luna joined the Real Salt Lake family, there’s been a consensus that the young U.S. U-20 international should be given ample opportunity to earn first-team minutes. However, the reality has been very different, and it’s hard to say why.
Luna has earned three USL Championship Team of the Week accolades in his short time with the club despite only playing in 31 games and over 1,928 minutes. He’s also scored nine goals and five assists to make him one of the best youngsters in the league.
The midfielder capped off his impressive professional debut year by representing club and country in the inaugural Revelations Cup. In just under 120 minutes of play, Luna helped the United States defeat Mexico and earn his first goal with the national team.
Following the tournament, the USA stayed undefeated in Group E with a 3-0 win over Fiji on Tuesday. The game was a bit sloppy affair, but it was an impressive victory nonetheless. And while the likes of Quinn Sullivan, Paxten Aaronson, Cade Cowell and Jack McGlynn all contributed to the win, Luna’s work on the right wing changed the course of the match.
Luna’s assist came in the 67th minute as the Americans finally broke down the pesky Fiji defence. After much hard work to get the ball forward, Luna drove down the left flank and sent in a cross that Sullivan jumped on inside the six-yard box. The goal gave the U.S. a much-needed lead as they started losing steam.
Luna is set to miss RSL’s next two MLS matches while he’s away with the Youth National Team for the upcoming u-20 World Cup in Argentina. But once the tournament concludes, the club should be ready to welcome back the talented midfielder.