Diego Luna Shines for RSL After Being Snubbed

Being left out of the US Olympic team only made Diego Luna shine even brighter for Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake v St Louis City SC
Real Salt Lake v St Louis City SC / Bill Barrett/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Just hours after the crushing news that he hadn’t been called up for the 2024 US Olympic team, Diego Luna responded spectacularly on the field. It was as if a sleeping giant had been awakened, showing the world what it means to "poke the bear."

In the match against Atlanta United, Luna wasn’t just decisive; he put on an unforgettable show. Three assists and a goal, all culminating in a resounding 5-2 victory. No wonder he now boasts 5 goals and 12 assists this season, trailing only behind stars like Lucho Acosta of FC Cincinnati and Lionel Messi of Inter Miami CF in league assists.

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Luna’s performance in the 25th round was a slap in the face to the critics and possibly a direct message to Marko Mitrović, the Olympic team coach, who chose to leave him out of the 18-player roster. Refusing the offer to be a substitute in the tournament was a bold move, but for Luna, it was a matter of dignity and self-confidence. For RSL’s coach, Pablo Mastroeni, the situation was clear: they had poked the beast. "He’s a player who plays with a sense of injustice, with something to prove," Mastroeni said after the game. "Full credit to Diego for his determination and, of course, his quality... And selfishly, for me and the rest of our team, we have a top-caliber player available for the next four games."

At 20 years old, Luna already shows the maturity and mentality of a champion, something many veterans still struggle to achieve. And while the Olympic team will go on without him, Real Salt Lake is grateful. With 43 points, RSL is in a tight race for the top of the Western Conference, battling neck and neck with LAFC and LA Galaxy. Luna will be a central figure in this race, a maestro in midfield, orchestrating plays and creating magical moments. The irony? His absence from the Olympics might be just what RSL needed.

Luna, in his own words, is focused and grateful. "I’m happy to be here and to continue this great run with RSL," he said after the game. "To keep doing things like this and, who knows, even more, right? I’m focused, I’m here with RSL, and I’m going to keep working hard."

The disappointment of not being at the Olympics is undeniable. It’s like listening to a sad song on a rainy day, a feeling of emptiness that many athletes face in their careers. But it’s exactly this pain that can propel Luna to even greater heights. He has turned this sadness into strength, this rejection into an opportunity to shine even brighter.