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Diego Luna shows “top caliber player” abilities following reported Olympic snub

Diego Luna’s hopes of making the U.S. men’s Olympic roster this summer reportedly ended on Saturday, but while many players would be disappointed with the news, Luna used it as motivation en route to a Man of the Match performance.

Luna scored once and added three assists as Real Salt Lake rolled to a 5-2 home win over visiting Atlanta United. The 20-year-old attacker set the stage with an early assist on Matt Crooks’ first minute goal before adding two additional helpers and an insurance goal in the second half.

Despite having a positive first half of the MLS season, Luna is not set to be included in Marko Mitrovic’s 18-player Olympic roster when it is released on Monday afternoon. Although there is some disappointment in Luna not being part of the Americans’ trip to France this month, the dual-national is staying focused on the job at hand with RSL.

“I’m grateful to be here and to be able to stay here with RSL in this great run of form and continue to do stuff like this and hopefully more, right?” Luna said postmatch. “So I’m happy, focused. I’m here with RSL and I’m going to continue to work hard.

“.. It’s the same disappointment when you get news that you don’t want to hear. Everybody deals with it every day,” he added. “And I think it’s just that same feeling, maybe to a different extreme, but I think it’s all about how we react to that situation and making the right decision.”

Luna made an immediate positive impression during the 2023 season, scoring seven combined goals and adding three assists across all competitions. A former U.S. under-20 men’s national team standout, Luna has taken those stats to new heights in 2024.

He has five goals and 12 assists to his name in MLS play this season, helping RSL to a current second place spot in the Western Conference (despite having equal points as West-leading LAFC). Pablo Mastroeni’s men have respectively the second-best home and away records in the West, losing just three times in 22 matches to date.

Luna has been a major part of RSL’s first-half success and although many fans and players alike would’ve liked to see him part of the United States’ return to the Olympics, Mastroeni is and RSL are fortunate to have him for the MLS and Leagues Cup matches that lie ahead.

“He’s a player that plays with a chip on his shoulder,” Mastroeni said. “Credit to Diego for his endeavor and, really, his quality.. selfishly for me and the rest of our team, we’ve got a top caliber player that’s going to be available for the next four games.”


  1. American players should focus on their club teams who pay their salary and using their successes to get bigger salaries. If a national team calls that’s great but there is no reason to bend over backwards for them, especially the clown show that is the USA. Just make money and live a good life Diego. You don’t need their approval.

  2. I thought Luna was the most outstanding US player in the U-20 World Cup. He is an obvious talent, as good as we have had recently, IMO. Maybe he needs to play in Europe to be considered by US coaches? I don’t know, but to not use this kid on some national team is malpractice. MLS is starting to rise to a level that top players can be equivalent to players in leagues like Belgium or similar. Look at how well Shaffelburg is doing for Canada in the Copa America. I mean, how much more does Luna need to do to be considered?

    • I agree Canada’s MLS players are pretty good. MLS isn’t a step down from a Belgian league or even the Eredivisie. From top to bottom I would say MLS is a stronger league than both.

      • The tide is changing in the “Strongest Leagues in World Football” .
        MLS has gone from being rated a lower-tier league according to the world of football, to currently 10th, beating out Liga MX, Dutch Eredivisie, 2. Bundesliga, EFL Championship and Serie B according to Opta Power Rankings.
        When considering these leagues (where a lot of the USMNT players play), you have to take into consideration the quality of the stronger half of the respective leagues vs weaker half of each competition.
        With that being said, players like Diego Luna, Djordje Mihailovic, Jesus Ferreira, Darlington Nagbe, Timothy Tillman, Brooks Lennon .etc should be given a lot more respect in the eyes of the US coaching staff than they currently do. These players are not your “Chris Wondolowski” and “Jeff Cunningham” era group of players. They are CURRENTLY EXCELLING in a TOP 10 league in the world

      • According to the money all of those are true and it isn’t all that close, except for the Championship. The Championship still outspends us but not by a lot and at our present rate of growth MLS will be past them in a year or two.

        People tend to judge leagues by their best teams and ignore the fact that most leagues are incredibly lopsided. The Netherlands is a great example: Ajax often spends over €40+ million a season on player salaries. PSV is generally a €30+ team – though not this past season – and Feyanoord is just above €25 million this year but was a good bit less than that last year.

        After that it falls off a cliff. The #4 and #5 teams in the Eredivisie are Utrecht and AZ Alkmaar, which are €10-million-a-season teams in terms of payroll…which would put them dead last in MLS, where the bottom-spending team is St. Louis City at $11,913,608 per Spotrac (which is more accurate than Capology for US sports.) The top-spending team in MLS, not surprisingly, is Inter Miami, with a $41,605,725 payroll, right about dead-even with Ajax.

        After that the league separates substantially. The team with the smallest payroll in the Eredivisie is Volendam, which spent just €3,270,000 this past year – or about a quarter that of St. Louis.

        Portugal is very similar to the Dutch league, though Benfica did spend €57 million this past year. But Gil Vicente at the bottom spent just €4 million. The Belgian league is also similar, though even smaller, and their top team is Anderlecht at €29.5 million.

        MLS has far, far more parity. 22 of the 29 teams spend $15+ million, and another three spend more than $14.5 million.

        Mind, the top five big monster teams in Europe spend €300+ million and the top 15 or 18 are all above €100+ million, so we’ve got a ways to go to hit that level.

  3. Olympic roster size is ridiculous. I hope he keeps tearing it up. Besides Pulisic, Bali, and Tim Tillman the attacking players for the US havent exactlt bern good the past couple of seasons. With a potential of a new coach Luna could get a shot. For all of the Reyna being our best attacker talk I just haven’t seen him take any steps forward. And Weah has some soul searching to do and who knows what his position will be under Motta.

    After that you have Brendon Aaronson, Taylor Booth, Yow, Paredes, Paxton Aaronson, Cade Cowell

    Definitely think Luna can fight for time against these players.

    Paredes is playing LW/LWB
    Brendo isn’t consistent
    Booth gets injured a lot
    Yow has talent but is inconsistent
    Cade Cowell is definitely inconsistent
    Paxten Aaronson may develop into more of an 8.

      • Tim Tillman is a very good player. I wish he would get more looks in the midfield. Drop Weston for a couple of matches and let Timothy come in and get some work. In fact, I would love to see a midfield diamond with the following:

        ————— GIO —————
        — Tim -———— Luca —
        ———— Johnny ————

        I’d like to see us with some very defined roles that are simple in execution with some define characteristics

        Gio playing as the 10 who’s responsible for being the Enganche To connect the MF to The Forward line

        Johnny playing as the 6 who’s responsible for being the Anchor to protect and connect the Back line

        Let Tim and Luca play as passing and shuttling 8’s who transport the ball to Gio. I think the 4-4-2- diamond is the best way to get a cohesive MF and offer cover when we want our backs to carry the ball higher or create width or run in behind.

  4. Well, if the Olympics don’t need him there’s another US team that needs as many talented players with a big chip on their shoulder as possible.

    He should consider applying there for a job.

  5. ……and USSoccer wanted to use him AS AN ALTERNATE player, for when a main pick gets hurt. A “standby” if you will. The kid did a Nagbe on them, and said NOPE.
    I love it. Keep balling kid!!!!!

    • MLS is playing right up to the Olympics and then Leagues Cup starts. He’d be missing several matches just to practice. US plays first two matches in Marseille far from most of the rest of the competitions and won’t walk in the Opening Ceremonies and barring a medal run won’t walk in the Closing Ceremonies either. They won’t stay in the Olympic Village. For the men it’s just another youth tournament. For a young women’s player like Croix Bethune it makes sense to go and show off your skills for Emma Hayes but for the men to give up league games to practice for Mitrovic who won’t coach them again what’s the point.

      • I don’t know what exactly you are getting at. “MLS is playing right up to the Olympics and then Leagues Cup starts. He’d be missing several matches just to practice”. Ssssssooooooo what?? Him playing in MLS reveals a scheduling issue? Guess who else plays in MLS:

        GOALKEEPERS (2):
        Patrick Schulte (Columbus Crew) – MLS

        DEFENDERS (7):
        Nathan Harriel (Philadelphia Union) – MLS
        Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy) – MLS
        John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls) – MLS
        Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United FC) – MLS
        Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC) – MLS

        MIDFIELDERS (7):
        Cole Bassett (Colorado Rapids) – MLS
        Benjamin Cremaschi (Inter Miami CF)- MLS
        Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union)- MLS

        FORWARDS (9):
        Esmir Bajraktarevic (New England Revolution)- MLS
        Duncan McGuire (Orlando City SC.)- MLS

        Luna makes this team in his sleep (based on his stats, technical and tactical abilities and talent). Maybe I don’t understand your point. I’m saying Diego Luna should not have been left off the USMNT U-23 as he is one of the best / dynamic players we have…….and offering him an alternative position as a backup is an insult. That’s why he rejected the offer

      • Bizzy: I’m saying it would be silly to go to Paris just to be an alternate because he’s got real matches to play. I heard Cole Bassett did the same. With the women you are practicing with the actual coach and can set yourself up for the future. The men don’t get that benefit. If you’re actually on the playing roster like the guys you mentioned might be it makes sense. Whether Diego was insulted or not it doesn’t make any sense to go as an alternate. By the way Esmir still has just a Bosnian flag on his Insta account after taking down his US flag last month, don’t think he’s coming either.

      • bizzy,

        Based on what we’re seeing in real time at the Euros and CA, international managers don’t seem to be holding an MLS contract against players much anymore. If so, why should the USMNT manager of all people, discriminate against MLS players?

        It’s like Thor’s hammer. If you’re worthy, you can pick it up. If not, fuck you.

        The Olympic team is asking Luna to hang out in case someone gets hurt. His alternative is to play what could be 4 important games for RSL.

        Luna’s first allegiance should be to the people who pay him his money and put food on his table. The Olympics are a cheap shit Under 23 tournament which, in a football sense is horse piss.

        However, if our new manager , the new JK ( Klopp not Kreis) were in charge then, yeah you move heaven and earth to be anywhere near that.

        If not then, it appears Moon Boy is getting in a groove and his best bet to draw attention from the new boss ( if there is one) is to be as dominant in MLS as he can be.

        Being the best player he can be, athletic or not, is all that Luna can do.

        If the USMNT doesn’t want him then Mexico could probably use him.

      • Dude, I shudder to think … I hope we don’t lose Diego Luna to Mexico!

        He would be a significant upgrade to the crappy midfield they traded out at the Copa. He would be a considerable upgrade for the crappy midfield. We tried it out at the Copa.

        I agree wholeheartedly. If you’re not “on the team“, then why would you miss out on four professional games at a higher level than the Olympics?

        It is clear he has a chip on his shoulder and he has something to prove (unfortunately it happened against my Atlanta United). I very much Like the bad ass attitude, the tats and his aggression. The spirit of The Clint’s (Mathis and Dempsey) are on this youngin’.

        Furthermore, I love the fact that he did the Bluey dance to honor his son after he scored his goal on Saturday. The dude is playing for more than someone else’s approval of him and I like that a lot!

        It’s probably gonna be an unpopular opinion, but he is showing me much more than Gio has. I wish he would get a look as our 10 or at least as one of the attacking 8’s in our crappy midfield system.

    • Yep makes no sense to go as an alternate when you have legitimate ganes to play in MLS.

      Hats off to both Bassett and Luna saying, no. With anew coach coming in…. things will be shaken up a bit.

      No more player leadership council. Which was an asinine thing to set up anyways as a head coach. You make the decisions not the players. And players need that type of leadership.

      • The purpose of the leadership council is not to let them make decisions, it is a way for someone without a backbone to make the same choices he would anyhow while deflecting responsibility.

      • Rico: I see you’ve worked in a location in which the boss had a “leadership council”.

      • @Johnny LoL unfortunately. Is it apparent that I am not a fan of the slippery practice of using committees, councils and investigations to misdirect, delay, deflect and obfuscate? Leadership is having the stones to be direct, transparent, to make a decision and 100% fully own it. Sadly, there seems to be a severe lack of that throughout US Soccer at the moment.

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