RSL, USMNT striker Rubio Rubin trains with Guatemala ahead of World Cup qualifiers

Rubio Rubin has thoroughly impressed with Real Salt Lake so far and Guatemala’s national team has taken notice, inviting the striker to train with them during the June international window.

Rubin, 25, has already featured seven times for the US men’s national team, though not since a June 2018 friendly against the Republic of Ireland. He initially made his senior team debut in a November 2014 friendly against Colombia, called in by then-head coach Jurgen Klinsmann during his early-career stop at Eredivisie side FC Utrecht.

But Rubin remains eligible to represent Guatemala, and the Los Chapines could use some reinforcements in the final third. Currently, Guatemala are preparing for Concacaf First Round World Cup qualifiers on June 4 vs. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and on June 8 vs. Curacao. They're in Group C, with only the winner advancing to Second Round games vs. Group D's winner on June 12 and June 15. From there, an octagonal spot can be clinched.

Rubin would have to sort through paperwork to represent Guatemala, so an official change in national team status doesn’t seem imminent. But there’s clear interest from both parties, with the Oregon native enjoying a career renaissance since joining MLS this past offseason after time at USL Championship side San Diego Loyal.

Through RSL’s first six games, Rubin has four goals and two assists. He won AT&T Goal of the Week for Week 4 following a spectacular bicycle kick and figures to lift the Claret & Cobalt once fellow USMNT striker Bobby Wood becomes available and new signing Jonathan "Jony" Menendez fully integrates from Club Atletico Independiente.

Should Rubin formally swap the USMNT for Guatemala, part of the equation might be how he factors into Gregg Berhalter’s current depth chart. Those like Orlando City SC striker Daryl Dike, Columbus Crew striker Gyasi Zardes and Europe-based Josh Sargent seem like leading figures, with Jordan Siebatcheu and Nicholas Gioacchini other factors. It’s also tough to rule out Toronto FC’s Jozy Altidore, especially if he reaches peak form.

But Rubin likely faces a clearer path forward with Guatemala, so he’s keeping his options open. And if this comes together, it’d be the latest chapter in a roundabout journey that seems to be reaching equilibrium back stateside and under RSL head coach Freddy Juarez.