EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – He may one day make it ‘to the moon,’ but for now the next stop in the soccer stratosphere for El Paso Locomotive FC’s Diego Luna is Major League Soccer.

Heralded as perhaps the top talent in the USL Championship, Luna agreed to terms on a move to MLS side Real Salt Lake on Wednesday afternoon, sources confirmed to KTSM. Luna is already in Salt Lake with the club.

Tom Bogert of MLS.com reported on Wednesday that Real Salt Lake will play 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.

Real Salt Lake will pay a visit to Vancouver on Saturday at 5 p.m. MT. and Luna is expected to be available to play because his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) is already registered in the US with El Paso, per Tom Bogert of MLS.com.

An 18-year-old midfielder in his second season with Locomotive FC, Luna was immediately one of the most electric players on El Paso’s roster from the moment he joined the team at the start of the 2021 season as a 17-year-old. He quickly became a fan favorite during Locomotive matches at Southwest University Park.

Luna 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.

Thus far in 2022 under the first-year coach John Hutchinson, Luna had four goals and two assists, routinely breaking down defenses all on his own with a  dazzling array of dribbling and speed.

His move to MLS is all at once unsurprising and well-deserved for a young player that chose to come to El Paso, over offers from clubs in higher divisions. The club vowed to never hold Luna back from achieving his dreams and his move to Real Salt Lake is being celebrated as an achievement for the fourth-year club’s abilities to identify and develop top talents in the United States’ second division.

Clubs in Europe made runs at Luna over the last few months, but he elected to remain stateside for now and go to Real Salt Lake.

That vision, set forth by club president Alan Ledford and general manager Andrew Forrest, paid massive dividends for Luna. In less than two seasons, Luna’s improvements on and off the pitch were noticeable. They’ve set him up to potentially step into Real Salt Lake and contribute immediately.

According to Locomotive brass, Luna’s skillset will make him a dynamic player in MLS, but his work ethic and hunger to be one of the best players in the league, then potentially move on to an even higher level, will help him even more.

He’ll step into a club that is, through 14 matches, in third place in MLS’ Western Conference with 25 points. Much like he did with El Paso, he has the chance to help a good team at Real Salt Lake become even better.

Hutchinson said that Real Salt Lake initially reached out about Luna during preseason, then again once the season began and interest increased. With impressive performances week after week, plus improvements in his fitness on the field and with how he pressured the ball up top, it soon became apparent that Luna’s time in El Paso was limited.

While Locomotive FC did want to keep Luna and made an effort to do so, it became clear that Luna needed a move to a higher level and the club ultimately wouldn’t stand in his way. The teenager who has already scored goals for the United States’ U-20 national team was very deserving of the move he’s making to Real Salt Lake.

Luna spent a little over one season with El Paso, growing as a player and a person. He leaves the Sun City with the opportunity he came for in hand and the club will be rooting for his success to continue.

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