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Diego Luna: 22 unter 22 bei Real Salt Lake

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    In Real Salt Lake’s previous 18-year history, only 10 players have been named to Major League Soccer’s prestigious 22 Under 22 list; today that number expands to include midfielder Diego Luna, the 2023 honor placing him alongside the likes of current teammates Justen Glad and Jefferson Savarino. 

    At 20 years old and in his sophomore season with Real Salt Lake, Luna plays in the midst of a breakout season, one which elevated to another level following his return from the 2023 FIFA Youth World Cup, where he recorded one goal and three assists on the United States’ run to the Quarterfinals. 

    Since his return from the World Cup, Luna has gone on to start in 15 of the team’s 20 matches, RSL posting an 8-5-2 record during that time, including a six-game unbeaten run to start off said period. 

    In his third game back from the tournament, Real Salt Lake traveled to a road match against St. Louis City SC, at the top of the Western Conference (and the eventual West champion), a team which had only lost twice at home. The Claret-and-Cobalt entered the match as the underdogs, having previously dropped a 4-0 result at America First Field to the team from Missouri.  

    But according to midfielder Diego Luna, the mid-June script would be entirely rewritten. 

    Fifteen minutes into the match, RSL metronome Pablo Ruiz threaded a long ball to Danny Musovski, who drove towards the end line before cutting back to send the ball across the 18-yard-box. As the ball skipped through a series of St. Louis defenders, beautifully dummied by veteran Captain Damir Kreilach, it fell to the feet of Luna, who squared his body before launching a right-footed, one-touch shot into the lower left corner of goal. 

    As the ball crossed the goal line, relief and elation spread across the young midfielder’s face, the pure joy of scoring his first goal as a member of Real Salt Lake. Luna would  on to assist on the next two goals, giving the team a dominant 3-1 win over St. Louis City. 

    Three days later, Luna would go on to provide the game-tying assist in the ninth minute of stoppage time, putting a perfectly placed ball on the foot of Justen Glad to preserve the point against Minnesota United, recording what is now the latest equalizer in Club history. 

    But his summer would not stop there, as Real Salt Lake hosted New York Red Bulls on July 15. One minute and 50 seconds into the match, Savarino hit a long ball over the Red Bull defensive line to Luna, who skipped his shot past the goalkeeper to take the early lead. Then in the 53rd minute Luna scored his second, pouncing on the end of a throughball from Danny Musovski to net what would be the eventual game-winner and make the Bay Area native the youngest player in Club history to record a multi-goal game. 

    Luna’s performance against New York Red Bulls earned him MLS Player of the Matchday honors, the second-youngest to do so all season. In addition to being named Player of the Matchday, Luna has been selected for the Team of the Matchday three times this season.

    Still at the nascent beginnings of his career, Luna will look to use this award as a jumping off point, much like those before him. Since being included on the list of such RSL luminaries as Justen Glad, Jefferson Savarino, Albert Rusnak, Joao Plata and Luis Gil - all of whom have gone on to be record breakers, captains and potential Real Salt Lake legends. 

    Time will tell if Luna will take a similar path as those before him, but if history is any indication this is just the start.


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