EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – For the first time since 2008, the United States Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team qualified to a Men’s Olympic Football Tournament, as they secured a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics with a 3-0 win over Honduras in the 2022 Concacaf U-20 Championship Semifinals on Friday night.
The team continues to blaze through the competition as that result marked the team’s fifth win in the tournament.
One player part of the Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team is former El Paso Locomotive FC star Diego Luna. The 18-year-old soccer star has been in Honduras the last two weeks with the national team as they’ve collected a record of 5-0-1 in the tournament. One of Luna’s best matches was the one against Nicaragua on Jun. 25 as he recorded a goal and assist in the United States’ 5-1 win.
Luna helped lead the U.S. U-20 Youth National Team to securing their ticket to the 2024 Olympics in Paris. That was a huge accomplishment for Luna and the team.
“We got that news that a lot of people have know that the U.S. has not made the Olympics in two cycles in eight years,” said Luna. “It is crazy and I think being part of this group and you know the brotherhood that we’ve created and stuff going along this tournament has been pretty crazy and it is exciting.”
The 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris won’t be the only thing Luna will look forward to.
The future star of the sport will continue his professional career in the United States’ top soccer league: Major League Soccer (MLS).
Last month, Luna agreed to terms on a move to MLS side Real Salt Lake. Tom Bogert of MLS.com reported that Real Salt Lake paid Locomotive FC a transfer fee of $250,000 for the rights to Luna, which multiple sources told KTSM is among the most lucrative transfer fees in USL Championship history.
Luna made his MLS debut against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC on June 4 as he was subbed on in the 88th minute of the match as the Whitecaps went onto grab a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake. That was the only match Luna has played so far for his new club as international duty snatched him away immediately, which made for a crazy month for the 18-year-old.
“It’s been pretty crazy. That week heading out to Real Salt Lake from El Paso was crazy and the straight from Vancouver, I came out here [Honduras] and its just been pretty crazy,” said Luna. “I have not been able to settle into Utah yet but I am looking forward to getting back and having a little bit of time to focus and settle back in Utah.”
Even though Luna is ready to take the next steps in his professional career on the pitch, he will always have a special place in his heart for El Paso.
Luna joined the club at the start of the 2021 season as a 17-year-old. He contributed heavily to one of the most lethal attacks in the USL as a rookie, scoring nine goals and dishing out five assists for Mark Lowry’s squad that was among the top four teams in the league.
In his second season, Luna established himself as a fan favorite and continued to show why he is one of the best young players in the sport. If it wasn’t for his time in El Paso, Luna wouldn’t be the player he is today.
“I think El Paso became very close to my heart and I’d consider it my second home,” said Luna. It is a place that kind of made me who I am and gave me the chance to become who I can become. I think that is an amazing feeling and knowing that they have my back through everything. It’s awesome.”