One of the United States' best young players has a home. Rubio Rubin has signed a four-year contract with FC Utrecht, giving him a club to develop at, play at, and stay with long-term.
Rubin signed a pre-contract with FC Utrecht last year, but it was not a long-term deal. It gave the 18-year-old a chance to join the team, train with them and play with their youth team with the hope that he would prove he was worthy of a long-term commitment. He did that, reportedly playing well with the U-19's in the spring and he got a chance with the senior team in preseason training, where he continued to impress enough to earn a contract.
"Rubio is one of the biggest talents from the United States," head of player management and scouting Edwin de Kruijff said in a statement. "He is enormously talented and we had already seen this during the first training session he completed in (our training complex). During the rest of his stay, he confirmed that positive image and created a connection between the club and himself. We see in him a great promise for the future and it is also why we have signed him for four years."
Rubin was a U.S. U-17 residency player and a member of the Portland Timbers academy who has long been one of the country's best prospects. He was named U.S Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year in 2012 and had offers from several European clubs. He picked Utrecht in part because of the way the Eredivisie develops attacking players and his ability to grow there.
Now that Rubin has a home, he has to work his way up through the club. He was a U-19 regular in the spring and good enough to get a look with the senior team in preseason. He was dealt a setback when he suffered a concussion in a friendly last weekend, but it isn't expected to keep him sidelined long.
It's unlikely Rubin is a part of the first team when the season starts on August 8 unless he can manage finding full fitness by then, but they are a team with holes at forward. The American will join the reserves when he is back and if he can get fit there, there is no reason he can't crack the first team before the new year.
And wouldn't the United States love to have him playing regularly for Utrecht heading into next year's U-20 World Cup?