"Poking the bear": Diego Luna responds with Real Salt Lake masterclass


Hours after reports surfaced that he didn't make the US squad for the 2024 Summer Olympics, Diego Luna delivered a signature performance for Real Salt Lake.

Luna not only assisted on three goals, but scored himself in the 84th minute of Saturday's 5-2 home win over Atlanta United. He now has 5g/12a this season, trailing only FC Cincinnati's Lucho Acosta (17) and Inter Miami CF's Lionel Messi (13) for the league lead in assists.

Luna's Matchday 25 star turn followed a report from Tom Bogert that the 20-year-old attacking midfielder was not named to Marko Mitrović's 18-man Olympic roster and declined an offer to be an alternate for the tournament.

In the eyes of RSL head coach Pablo Mastroeni, it was a matter of "poking the bear."

"He's a player that plays with a chip on his shoulder," Mastroeni said postgame. "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."

Looking ahead

While Luna reportedly won't be in France over the summer, he'll be a central figure in RSL's continued ascent. They have 43 points, battling LAFC and the LA Galaxy for Western Conference supremacy.

Despite a potential setback, Luna is taking the news in stride.

"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. "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. 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."