When Real Salt Lake forward Rubio Rubin received a pass from Nick Besler against FC Dallas on the road, turned on a dime and scored with his left foot, General Manger Elliot Fall made a few phone calls to some colleagues.
“Rubio is better than we ever thought he was going to be,” Fall recalled saying.
That on-field moment was just one of several reasons Fall and the club’s front office decided to keep Rubio in Salt Lake City long-term. Rubio signed a contract extension through 2024 with a club option for 2025, the team announced Monday.
News of the deal broke last week. A person with knowledge of the situation told The Salt Lake Tribune that Rubio’s salary will approach the maximum allowable budget charge in each year of the new deal. The max salary for a non-designated player is $612,500 in 2021.
Rubin comes from a home where he was taught the value of hard work. He’s struggled in his career to find a balance between his soccer life and his personal life, but rediscovered his joy for the game in recent years.
To that end, Rubin said his father was excited to hear his son earned the contract extension, but also wanted to make sure his son kept up the work that got him there.
Fall said the club wanted Rubin to feel comfortable with the idea that RSL would be a home to him for several years, which is part of the reason the contract goes as long as it does.
“The conversation was essentially about locking him up to a long-term extension so that he could have that stability and he could remove that question mark from any thought process and he can just focus on doing what allows him to be his best and allows him to help the team,” Fall said.
Still, Rubin is a player who hasn’t allowed himself to get too comfortable in any situation, and the same will likely be true in the coming years. Now that he has the stability of his new deal, Rubin said he can now focus on reaching some of his personal goals, which include making a World Cup, getting back to the U.S Men’s National Team and winning a Major League Soccer championship.
“I’ve gone my whole career — I haven’t won one championship other than the youth level,” Rubin said. “I think something that I strive for is to lift up a trophy for this club [and], at the same time, for myself.”
Rubin has played 12 games and started 11 of them. He has four goals and two assists.