HERRIMAN (Thursday, June 2, 2022) – Real Salt Lake has acquired 18-year old MF Diego Luna from USL Championship side El Paso Locomotive, adding the USA U-20 playmaker to its roster. Luna is signed through the 2024 Major League Soccer season, with Club options for the 2025 and 2026 MLS seasons. In order to obtain the Homegrown Priority spot for the rights to add Luna, RSL exchanged $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) with the San Jose Earthquakes, who could also receive additional GAM based on various service and performance milestones achieved by Luna.
“I believe Real Salt Lake is an historic club with an amazing and vibrant fan base; I am grateful for the faith RSL has in me and my abilities, and I look forward to contributing to the team,” said Luna during his first 24 hours in Utah on Wednesday. “After speaking with the front office about their strong interest and plan for me, I am convinced this was the right move for my career. I will forever be grateful to El Paso for giving me my first professional contract, and the opportunity to showcase myself as I face new challenges.”
A Northern California native, Luna made his debut for the United States Under-20 Men’s National Team in 2021, joining the Stars-and-Stripes last November for the inaugural Revelations Cup held in Mexico. The playmaker found his first international goal in the 50th minute during the 2-1 loss against the U-20 squad from Mexico, for which he is also eligible.
Luna is expected to represent the United States yet again in the upcoming CONCACAF U-20 World Cup Qualifying tournament in Honduras, which kicks off on June 18. New RSL teammates Jaziel Orozco and Gavin Beavers are also on the preliminary roster, with the team opening camp for the Honduras tourney next Tuesday, June 7.
“Everyone at RSL welcomes the opportunity to further sharpen a young player such as Diego Luna on our senior roster, opening the doors of our Homegrown development paradigm to a proven, albeit young, dual national No. 10 on the ascent in his professional career,” said Real Salt Lake Technical Director Kurt Schmid. “Luna has blossomed in the last 18 months at El Paso, and we are excited to get him integrated into our system, to learn from Pablo Mastroeni and his staff, while also watching him assert his skills at the upcoming CONCACAF U-20 tourney this month.”
During the first half of 2022, Luna has followed up his breakout year with outstanding success at the USL Championship level with El Paso Locomotive FC. While balancing “club and country” commitments with a trio of USYNT callups, Luna has scored four goals with two assists in just 10 Locomotive matches this season, all of which were starts. During the 2021 / 22 seasons at El Paso, the now 18-year-old midfielder recorded 13 goals and seven assists over 41 matches.
Since joining El Paso Locomotive FC at the age of 17 in April 2021, Luna has turned heads across the league and nationwide, as Luna’s initial season at El Paso was highlighted with accolades. The rising star earned a spot on the USL Championship Team of the Week Starting XI twice, prior to being named to the 2021 All-League Second Team and nominated for USL’s Young Player of the Year.
Prior to his time in El Paso, Luna played in the San Jose Earthquakes Academy from the age of 12. While with San Jose, Luna took home the Surf Cup trophy, while also competing in the prestigious Dallas Cup and generation adidas Cup. At 15, Luna made the move to the Barca Residency Academy in Casa Grande, Arizona.
#26 – Diego Angel Luna
Pronunciation: dee – AY – go LOO – nuh
Hometown: Redwood City, California
Date of Birth: 3 September 2003 (18)
Nationality: American / Mexican dual national
How Acquired: Signed via permanent transfer from El Paso Locomotive (USL Championship)
TRANSACTION: Real Salt Lake permanently acquire MF Diego Luna from El Paso Locomotive (USL Championship) on Thursday, June 2, 2022.
As of June 2, 2022, Real Salt Lake’s current roster during the ongoing MLS campaign, listed alphabetically by position, is as follows:
Goalkeepers (4): Gavin Beavers, Jeff Dewsnup, Zac MacMath, David Ochoa
Defenders (11): Andrew Brody, Zack Farnsworth, Justen Glad, Bret Halsey, Aaron Herrera, Erik Holt, Chris Kablan, Johan Kappelhof, Jaziel Orozco, Marcelo Silva, Tate Schmitt
Midfielders (11): Julio Benitez, Nick Besler, Scott Caldwell, Maikel Chang, Bode Davis, Damir Kreilach, Jasper Löffelsend, Diego Luna, Everton Luiz, Pablo Ruiz, Jude Wellings
Forwards (9): Sergio Cordova, Chris Garcia, Anderson Julio, Axel Kei, Jonathan Menendez, Justin Meram, Rubio Rubin, Jefferson Savarino, Bobby Wood
With 25 points accumulated through the first 14 games of the 2022 MLS campaign, Real Salt Lake (7-3-4, 25 pts, t-2nd West) has matched its fastest start ever (2014), despite playing six of its first nine away, with seven games against 2021 MLS Cup opponents. With nine results in its last 13 road games (5-4-4, 19 pts) dating back to late 2021, RSL has set a new standard for away form under Pablo Mastroeni, the Club’s sixth head coach in 18 seasons.
For the first time in Club history, RSL has opened the year with six consecutive sellouts at Rio Tinto Stadium – the 5-0-1 (W-L-T) record matching its best-ever 2010/2014 starts – while Mastroeni and staff have utilized 27 players throughout an injury-filled first third of the year, as the Club has seen exactly 100 combined games of player availability lost due to injury, suspension or international duty.
Real Salt Lake finished last season in dramatic fashion, booking its place in the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs on Decision Day before making a run to the Western Conference Final following a 14-14-6 regular-season record. Following Saturday’s trip to Vancouver, RSL will then return home on Saturday, June 18, hosting the San Jose Earthquakes to open a stretch that sees three of its following four and five of seven matches played on the Wasatch Front through July 23.