Diego Luna's "best performance of the season" powers RSL atop West


Diego Luna is back with a bang.

After briefly losing his spot in Real Salt Lake’s starting XI over the last few weeks, Luna has found his way back into the lineup and back onto the scoresheet with a goal and assist to lead RSL in a 2-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC Wednesday night. Continuing their winning ways, the Claret and Cobalt (7W-2L-5D) remain top of the Western Conference with 25 points through 13 matches.

“I think Diego got off to a rough start [this season] for a multitude of reasons,” head coach Pablo Mastroeni recognized before praising Luna’s bounce back to form. “I think last week against LA he was phenomenal and tonight I think he followed that up with his best performance of the season. I think Diego is in a great run of form on both sides of the ball, just super committed and really led by his actions tonight on both sides of the ball. I thought he was tremendous.”

His impact began with a lung-busting run through the center circle on the counterattack after a backheel combination with Andrew Brody. Luna dove into the space, feeding Matt Crooks who immediately shifted the ball along for Andrés Gómez to finish it off. Sometimes the secondary assist is more important than the primary assist. This was one of those instances.

“Me and Brody played on the left a lot last year and I think it was just kind of knowing we like to combine and just good chemistry so nice little kind of one-two thing then I took a good touch in the middle,” Luna said. “From there, it was a counter.”

Just before the hour mark, RSL hit on the counter again with Luna finishing off the move rather than starting it. As the 20-year-old American returns to form following challenges early on, Luna credits therapy for his resurgence.

“In my game, I think it's just about being in the right mental state. If I'm not having fun, if I'm stressing out, if I'm not enjoying it while I'm there, then my game is going to be off,” Luna said. “I think it's for me just being happy and making sure that I'm working hard for my team and things will come my way.”

Luna's resurgance coincides with RSL's nine-match unbeaten streak, the longest currently in MLS. They have gone nine games unbeaten in back-to-back seasons for the first time in club history, tying the fourth-longest win streak in RSL history while solidifying their spot at the top of the Western Conference.

Unsurprisingly, Mastroeni sees Luna as a key to maintaining Salt Lake’s top-of-the-table form.

“In order for us to be a very good team, Diego's got to put in those types of performances that he has in the last few games he's played," Mastroeni said. "So just super happy for his development, his growth as a fantastic young player with a great mindset, and his ability to contribute both sides of the ball.”