One of the brightest prospects in the FC Dallas youth system is FCD Juniors striker Ruben Luna. The 2009 U15/16 Developmental Academy Player of the Year with 38 goals in 27 games, Luna has been playing in the FCD Juniors U18 team this season while simultaneously training a majority of days with FC Dallas' senior side. The heavy schedule for Luna, who previously had committed to play soccer at SMU, doesn't' seem to be a burden on the young man, perhaps because he graduated early from high school this last winter.
Luna is a young talent with serious dedication and work ethic. FC Dallas asked him to drop some weight and get fitter this spring, and the young man has done that though diet and training. One example I witnessed of his focus and determination came when subbing out of a scrimmage in FCD training. Rather than sitting and watching, Luna did crunches on the side line. Luna is a pure goal scorer in the Carlos Ruiz mold, and knows how to use his body to control defenders much bigger than he is.
"Ruben, we’re very high on here. Schellas [Hyndman] is very high on him," FC Dallas technical Director Barry Gorman told MLSsoccer.com. "Hopefully [we’ll see him] not only in an FC Dallas uniform but on the field as well. We’re very high on him and a lot of people are. I think you know we’ve got a natural goal scorer in Ruben and have got a diamond waiting to be polished."
FC Dallas has been working all spring to sign Luna as one of their two home grown prospects. Luna was even given squad number 24 in spring training. Bryan Leyva, a member of the Mexican U17 team, was the first home grown signing for FCD and has already seen the field in a MLS game. Home grown prospects don't count on the senior club roster and are granted an extra spot outside the 24 allocated by MLS. If Luna signs he will be able to play this season for FCD.
So what exactly is the hold up on the deal? Good question. No one at FC Dallas will go on the record about why the signing is taking so long.
A few weeks ago the MLS players union leaked, as they do every year, the list of salaries for MLS. Coming as a big shock to close followers of FC Dallas was the presence of Luna's name on the list at $45,000. 3rd Degree has asked for an explanation from FCD and the club has no official answer.
Here's what Luna's name on that list tells me, that FC Dallas has a deal in place, an agreement in principle if you will, with Luna. It tells me that some technicality is holding up the deal, most likely something outside MLS and FCD. Since Luna has never been a pro anywhere else, it's not some kind of transfer or international paperwork holding up the deal. That leaves only the citizenship/residency question. Many people familiar with the inner workings of soccer in North Texas have indicated for some time that residency was the issue, but no one with FC Dallas has ever confirmed that with 3rd Degree.
"[Signing Luna] is a top priority and we’re working very hard on that," said Gorman "I can say at this time that there is major light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not just a faint glow. It’s a bright light and we’re hoping that in the next few days or couple of weeks, we’re going to have a major announcement on that. We’re getting very, very close."
So some movement on this deal at last perhaps and FC Dallas will finally get their bright young talent into the fold. As to when FCD fans might see Luna on the field, the answer is sooner rather than later I think. Coach Hyndman has been itching to play 4-4-2 and get a second striker on the field. I for one place Luna ahead of Peri Marosevic and Andrew Wiedeman in progression, and given Cunningham's current form, Luna might see the line up sooner than anyone thinks.