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Why isn’t Rubio Rubin playing?

RSL needed goals last night — and they have most of the season. Why isn’t Rubio Rubin playing?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been trying to puzzle through why Rubio Rubin hasn’t seen significant minutes this season, or if you were wondering why he at least didn’t come on against FC Dallas with a team that simply couldn’t finish, RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni talked through his thought process after last night’s loss to FC Dallas at home.

In a response to a question from podcast host Alex Mower, Mastroeni indicated it’s about his lack of goalscoring in 2022. Rubin has scored no goals dating back to an October 2021 win over Colorado Rapids.

“No, other than he hasn’t found the back of the net in some time,” Mastroeni said. “I think that’s a confidence thing. I think he’s a fantastic young man, he’s a fantastic player. Scoring goals, it comes from a place of confidence. We know he can score goals, he knows he can score goals. What I will say is this last week in training has been really bright, and it looks like he turned a corner.”

Mastroeni continued, attributing his paltry minutes in part to the lack of a preseason for Rubin.

“Again, he didn’t have a preseason with us, he’s getting his fitness from games,” he said. “That’s always a tough way to start any kind of campaign. When you get your chances and you’re not scoring, it’s very difficult. But what he does when he’s not scoring has been top level for me. I think it’s just about — he’ll get his run.”

Finally, Mastroeni volunteered why Sergio Cordova continued to see minutes late in the match instead of being substituted.

“The thought today was just Sergio, his size, two big center backs,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy, but if there’s one guy that can climb and score with his head, it’s going to be Serge.”

Rubin scored eight goals and pulled down five assists in 2021 and played every match of the regular season, while he has zeros in both categories for 2022 with 13 appearances and four starts — just 484 minutes. Three of those goals in 2021 came under Pablo Mastroeni, while the remainder came while Freddy Juarez coached the club.