FRISCO, TEXAS – When Ruben Luna signed his first professional contract with FC Dallas five weeks ago, he knew he would be eligible to play during the 2010 season. But he couldn’t have known just how soon he would be making his MLS debut on the field at Pizza Hut Park.
In Saturday night’s match against Toronto FC, Luna came on as a substitute for Jeff Cunningham in the 82nd minute with FC Dallas leading 1-0. The homegrown rookie clearly had no interest in settling for a 1-0 victory, earning FCD a free kick in the 83rd minute by frustrating the opposing defense into tackling him off the ball. In the 88th minute Luna had a scoring opportunity in the box that Toronto goalie Stefan Frei held onto, and he very nearly notched his first MLS goal in stoppage time before it was disallowed on a controversial offside call.
Luna’s impact on the game should come as no surprise to anybody who has followed his development through the FC Dallas Youth System. He was named the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Player of the Year in 2009 and was named to the USSDA U-17/18 Starting XI in 2010 before signing with FC Dallas.
FC Dallas broadcaster and former player Bobby Rhine has witnessed Luna’s growth first-hand and calls him an immediate impact player.
“Once he gets his opportunity in and around the area he is clinical in his ability to finish chances,” said Rhine. “His work ethic is good, he’s got great character, like all the players that come out of the FC Dallas Development Academy, but he’s an exceptional talent with incredible potential.”
Also on the 18-man roster for FC Dallas Saturday night was the team’s first homegrown player, Bryan Leyva. Leyva was in Luna’s shoes four months ago when he made his MLS debut at Pizza Hut Park against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Leyva said he thought Luna handled the pressure well.
“He’s a player that, when he comes in, he always thinks about scoring and helping the team out,” said Leyva after the game. “I think he did great and from now on he’s going to get better and better. I’m proud of him.”
Luna admitted he was both excited and nervous when he found out he was going to be on the 18-man roster, but said once he was called in as a sub he just focused on helping the team.
“I went on the field and I tried to do my best,” said Luna. “I almost had a goal and sadly it was called offside. Hopefully next game I can get one.”
Even with the disallowed goal, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said he was impressed with the way the rookie handled himself on the field.
“The defender, (Adrian) Cann, the first time he went in and tried to muscle (Luna) and he found out that he wasn’t going to be able to muscle him,” said Hyndman. “Ruben just rolled right off of him.”
“He brings a different look and he’s definitely a player for FC Dallas’ future.”
WATCH: Ruben Luna makes his debut