The Real Salt Lake (RSL) witnessed its thrilling journey in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup come to a bitter end last Saturday night when facing the Houston Dynamo FC in the third match of the Best of 3 series, resulting in a penalty shootout loss. Among the protagonists of this campaign, Diego Luna, a 20-year-old rising star who experienced highs and lows throughout the playoffs, stood out.
Luna, a budding US international, proved to be a vital force for RSL in the late stages of the season, scoring decisive goals and emerging as one of the playoff stars. However, cruel fate reserved for him the roles of hero and heartbreak on the same night. His headed goal at the 65th minute was crucial in taking the game to penalties, but unfortunately, he was also responsible for a missed penalty kick.
Coach Pablo Mastroeni, along with teammates, was quick to offer support to Luna, highlighting his courage, skill, and vital contribution in the last seven, eight games. Mastroeni emphasized that the penalty shootout loss should not define Luna’s brilliant season and stressed that the player will learn from this challenging moment.
“These moments are tough for young players, but I think if there’s a player on this team who can learn from this moment and move forward, it’s Diego,” said Mastroeni.
Luna’s resilience becomes evident when examining his recent accomplishments: four goals in the last five club games, including a spectacular goal in the 2-1 defeat in the first match and the decisive penalty kick in the 5-4 victory in the second game. These moments should not be forgotten amid the disappointment of the last game.
Diego Luna, visibly emotional after the final whistle, acknowledged the sadness and disappointment but also expressed his determination to move forward. His future looks promising, with the possibility of representing the US U-23 team in the November international window.
Amidst the disillusionment, Luna is focused on learning from the experience and using it as an opportunity for personal and professional growth. His teammates highlight that this is just an isolated chapter in his promising career, and they all believe he will come back stronger next season.
The playoff defeat may have been a setback, but for Diego Luna, the sky remains the limit.