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MLS

Riqui Puig on life in LA: ‘The city is perfect... I’m so happy here’

After nearly a decade with hometown team Barcelona, the MLS All-Star has found a home since making the switch to LA Galaxy.

Update:
Riqui Puig on LA: ‘The city is perfect... I’m so happy here’
Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Just a year on from his arrival in Los Angeles, Riqui Puig is preparing for his first MLS All-Star Game appearance. The 23-year-old left his native Barcelona in August 2022 to join LA Galaxy on a three-and-a-half-year deal.

After reaching the Western Conference playoff semi-finals last season the 2023 campaign started poorly for the Galaxy and they have had to deal with the loss of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez to long-term injury.

But the Galaxy go into the mid-season break with just one defeat in their last eight MLS matches, thanks in no small part to the form of Puig in the middle of the pitch. In an interview with MLS Soccer, Puig reflected on his first year in Los Angeles.

Riqui Puig has become one of the most influential midfielders in MLS this season.
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Riqui Puig has become one of the most influential midfielders in MLS this season.Jason ParkhurstUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

“I’m one year here, and the adaptation, it’s not easy,” Puig admitted. “It’s like, it’s the opposite [of] LaLiga. And I think that I need time. The team, maybe they need time to understand my type of play.

“But I think that I’m very happy with my teammates. I have really good atmosphere inside the locker room. And yeah, I think we need to improve a little bit more.”

Puig has stepped up to lead the Galaxy

Puig came in for the final portion of last season and helped an impressive Galaxy team to a ten-game unbeaten run to close the regular season. Things have not been quite so smooth this year but Puig has stepped up to become the key presence in midfield, controlling the tempo of their play, and securing a spot on the All-Star Team roster.

“Yeah, I think that I need to take this role,” Puig said. “I like this role.”

“For sure, I need my teammates, because it’s a game with a lot of players. It’s not like tennis or golf, that it’s only one player. And I need my teammates."

“But like you say, if I need to take this role, I’m so ambitious, and I want to take it.”

Los Angeles “is perfect” for Puig

Puig grew up in Barcelona and joined the Spanish side’s famed La Masia youth academy at the age of 14. He made 60 appearances for the Barcelona first team but was never able to pin down a starting berth.

In the summer of 2022 he decided to move from Spain for the first time in his life and found a new home in Los Angeles .

I always say it’s perfect, the city is perfect. The team, it’s one of the bigger teams of MLS, they have a lot of history,” Puig said.

But despite feeling comfortable in his new home, Puig knows that success on the pitch is how his time in Los Angeles will be judged. The Galaxy are 13th in the Western Conference at the mid-season break, but have 12 games remaining in the regular season and are just seven points from the playoffs.

Puig is confident that they can rescue a disappointing season and make it to the post-season.

“We need good results and that’s it,” he said. “Then the fans, I think that they’ll want to come to Dignity. The last three games, the stadium, it’s full, and it’s so good for Galaxy, for us and for all the team.”