Luca Moisa is no stranger to being the underdog. Born to Romanian immigrants, Moisa began his soccer career at Heat FC of Las Vegas, Nevada, playing in a squad that was bigger, stronger and older than him. Battling those challenges grew a work ethic within the crafty midfielder that earned him a spot with the Real Salt Lake Academy.

The young midfielder rose through the Academy’s ranks, not only earning a starting role but becoming a key contributor with the U-15s who reached back-to-back MLS NEXT Cup Finals. Now wearing the captain’s armband for the U-15’s, Moisa is aiming to help lead his team to a third consecutive trip to the MLS NEXT Cup Final.

This is On The Rise: Luca Moisa.

2022 Recap

Moisa’s journey with the Claret-and-Cobalt began at the start of the 2021-22 MLS NEXT season when he joined the RSL Academy.

Luca began the year on the bench, seeing sparing minutes and not consistently in the line up. However, his confidence never waivered nor did the confidence of his Coach Andrew May. Despite Moisa receiving limited minutes, May would rave to the front office about the small-blonde midfielder, even creating a highlight tape to show them.

“When we first decided to bring Luca in, we noticed his quality, his soccer brain and that was something we knew would always come through,” May said. “It just takes time. We always knew he was going to be special in that way and different from everybody else.”

As Luca grew a little taller and stronger, the midfielder began to see more minutes. At the start of the new year, Moisa became a pivotal piece in the midfield. The young midfielder started almost every match down the stretch, even in key tournaments such as Generation Adidas Cup.

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As the RSL U-15s traveled to Frisco, Texas to defend its MLS NEXT Cup title, Moisa aimed to put the youth ranks on notice. Starting every match, Moisa dominated the midfield recording two assists and one goal in the tournament helping his team to the finals despite falling just short of repeating as champions.

“It was kind of like watching your young ones grow up,” May described. “You could see him mature around the guys and after a few months, you saw him mature on and off the field as well.”

Luca’s performances not only caught the attention of coaches and executives within the RSL Academy but within the United States Youth National Team ranks as well. The young midfielder became a consistent call-up into the USYNT U-15's squad, representing the Stars-and-Stripes on multiple occasions.

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“It means so much to me,” Luca said. “My parents aren’t from here, so to represent a country that has given me so many opportunities it means a lot. I just strive to become a better player so that when I do represent the crest I’m ready.”

2023 Outlook

Luca Moisa U15 Interview

As the 2022-23 MLS NEXT season begins, Luca now holds more responsibility than the younger and smaller player who began his journey last year. He’s a household name in the USYNT camp, and no longer an underdog but a heavy favorite.

As the circumstances around Moisa’s development changed, U-15 Head Coach and former RSL Homegrown Jordan Allen knew he needed to find new ways to challenge the young midfielder. The first challenge: Be a leader.

“You always want to find new ways to challenge him,” Allen said on his decision to give Luca the captain’s armband.

“For Luca, now he is an older guy with more expectations on him, so now, for me, it is how can I challenge him to take more ownership of the group. He has risen to it. He is learning every day how to become a better leader, and for me that is just part of his development.”

Moisa has since taken the armband and ran with it, leading the U-15s to a 10-1-1 record and first place finish in the MLS NEXT West Division. Luca currently sits with two assists and one goal entering the second half of the MLS NEXT season but his play has a larger impact than what gets recorded in the stat sheets.

While Luca looks to grow his game and avenge the brutal MLS NEXT Cup Final loss of last season, he also has his sights set on taking his game to the next level. 

“My personal goal is to win MLS NEXT Cup,” Moisa explained. “I also want to make my Monarchs and first team debut as well as getting my first professional goal or assist.” 

What was once seen as far-fetched is now seemingly within striking distance. Moisa has established himself as one of the best footballers within his age group, becoming a blueprint for others within the RSL pipeline.

“I look to use Luca as a model for the younger kids within our Academy because he came in last year as the younger age group so there was an adjustment period,” Allen explained.

“He had to fight his way into just making the 18-man roster on any given weekend. Then, overtime because of his determination and discipline, he improved. As he’s grown athletically, the special pieces of his game on the ball have started to shine through. Luca is a model and inspiration for our other guys, to show what the difference a year can make with the right mentality and attitude. If you stick with it every day, good things will happen.”

“I wasn’t a starter at the beginning of last year,” Moisa reflected. “But because of my determination I was able to become one.”

2022 was the year people learned the name Luca Moisa. In 2023, the underdog turned favorite wants to make sure they remember it.