Rubio Rubin had waited for his chance to come to MLS and make a difference and now the American forward will have that opportunity in 2021 with Real Salt Lake.
Rubin signed for the Western Conference club on Thursday, making the move from USL side San Diego Loyal into Freddy Juarez’s squad in Utah. The versatile attacking player had bounced around throughout his career so far, playing in Norway, Denmark, Mexico and the Netherlands before getting the call to join a growing project in Salt Lake.
It is an exciting move to RSL, who adds a young and talented attacker to the mix, in hopes of returning to the playoffs this season.
“When I looked at the team it was a great opportunity because I wanted to go somewhere where I knew the capabilities of the players there,” Rubin said on a conference call. “I also wanted to go the best situation to show off my abilities and I felt coming to RSL was the best place for that. I’m excited to meet the lads and get going.”
A former U.S. Youth National Team player, Rubin has earned seven caps for the senior team and is coming off a great run with the Loyal in USL play. He signed a short-term deal with Landon Donovan’s side and scored seven goals in five games, his best run as a professional so far in a single span.
Rubin has gotten a taste of several different leagues, but will face a new challenge in MLS, a league known for its physical play and aggressiveness. The 24-year-old has continued to prepare for the upcoming season at home and isn’t shy about the contact he could receive from opposing defenders in the future.
“For me personally I understand the physicality of the league and personally I am going to have to adapt to that as the games go by,” Rubin said. “I maintain my same focus even though I am at home whether that is training or going to the gym.”
“At the end of the day I want to continue working on things I want to get better. It’s part of the process of developing as a player. Ultimately I am enjoying the moment right now and I am excited to get going with Real Salt Lake and being here in MLS.”
Before his move to the Loyal, Rubin was in Mexico with Liga MX Club Tijuana, a club he struggled to really make an impact at. He only scored one goals in 21 appearances over three years, while also spending time on loan in the Mexican second division with Dorados de Sinaloa.
While at Dorados, Rubin got to work with international soccer legend Diego Maradona, who sadly passed way in late November at the age of 60. Rubin’s short time with the Argentine allowed him to not only work with a former great attacking player, but it continues to help him develop as a professional today.
“Diego Maradona was my manager at Dorados for six months and we actually made it all the way to the promotion final which was a great experience that I will never forget,” Rubin said. “The guy loved football and he will be missed in the football world. A great guy who loved the sport and that’s all he lived for.”
“One specific example from working with him was I was doing a shooting drill and I ended with a miss and he said to me ‘you never want to end training on a bad note because it will stick in your mind going forward’,” Rubin said. “From that day I used that example to every I do now to end on a good note, it’s something to build off of and its another great memory of working with him.”
Real Salt Lake missed the playoffs last season after finishing 11th in the West, and also scoring the fewest goals in the conference with 25. Rubin’s arrival could help spark the RSL attack going forward with talented players like Albert Rusnak, Corey Baird, and Damir Kreilach already on the books at Rio Tinto Stadium.