Los Angeles (USA) (EFE).- “Very happy” in Los Angeles and “eager” for soccer. This is how Riqui Puig faces the new season, who caused a sensation with his landing in the MLS last summer and which on Saturday begins, this time from scratch, the course of the LA Galaxy led by Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández.
The ex-Barcelona player was crucial in the takeoff in 2022 of the Galaxy, who lost only two games out of twelve already with Puig in the engine room and who fell in the Western semifinals against their great rival: Los Angeles FC (LAFC) by Carlos Vela.
Puig (Matadepera, Spain, 1999) and the Galaxy will have the option of revenge since their first game of 2023 will be this Saturday with another Los Angeles derby against LAFC, at the iconic Rose Bowl stadium and with the intention of breaking the spectator record in an MLS game.
Ask: You’ve been in Los Angeles for half a year now. What was the hardest part of your adaptation coming from Barcelona?
Answer: At first it was really hard for me because I was in a hotel and when you’re in a hotel it’s more difficult to adapt to the city and everything in general.
Now that I have been in a house since January I am very comfortable. At the moment I don’t miss Barcelona, which is saying a lot… And every month my parents, my girlfriend or my brothers come to visit me. The truth is that right now I am very happy.
P: What surprised you the most about MLS?
R: To be honest, it was a league that I didn’t follow much when I was in Barcelona due to the time difference.
But the truth is that there is a high level, there are technically very good players. And they are also much more physical matches. You do more kilometers than in Spain. My first game here I did 14 kilometers and I had never done 14 kilometers in a game.
Then you gradually adapt to the style of play because you don’t have as much possession as at Barcelona, where you usually have 60-70% possession. But this is another style that I also like because there are a lot of cons, conductions, finding space. At the moment I am adapting well to the league.
P: You have referred to this Galaxy as “a great team to win the MLS”.
R: I think that in all positions we have very interesting players and some have also played in Europe for many years. That makes them have much more experience in how to compete, in how to have that grit in difficult moments.
I also think we play something that few teams in MLS play and that makes a difference. Sometimes, when they lock themselves in the back, it costs us a little more. But when we have spaces and we play what we want, I think we are one of the strongest teams in MLS.
P: Now they know you in the MLS and all the teams have signed you. What goals do you set for the new course?
R: Winning the MLS is the main objective for the group and also for me. I come from a winning club and I don’t see anything other than winning.
We also have to improve a lot when defending. If we can’t defend with the ball, we have to defend better positioned and when we get on the field to get the ball as soon as possible.
For me, if the team goes well, I think I will play well. And if I play well, the team will also play well.
P: Is there a revenge spirit in the Galaxy against LAFC after the defeat in 2022?
R: Well, revenge no, but it is a revenge and with desire. I think that game was a bit unfair. We had many more chances and more control. But hey, we want to vindicate ourselves. I think we can hit the table. It’s a great match and even more to start this league
P: The Mexican Julián Araujo has made the reverse trip and has just changed the Galaxy for Barcelona.
R: I told him: ‘I think you don’t have to think about it: you have to go yes or yes’. It is an experience for him to grow as a player and he is one of the best clubs in Europe. I don’t even talk about the city anymore because it is a perfect city.
Araujo is a player who can give Barcleona a lot. He goes into space a lot, he has a lot of depth and, since Barcelona plays with very deep full-backs, he can come in handy.
P: Do you follow Barcelona from Los Angeles? How do you see the situation of your former team?
R: The luck is that when we finish the Galaxy training session, around 12 noon, the games start there. So before eating I put football on TV. I don’t miss a game.
I think that this year Barcelona is playing very well. The numbers say it. They have scored 7 goals in 22 league games. It’s brutal. It is what Barcelona needed, to improve in that aspect, because offensively they always score goals and create many opportunities.
I think that this year Barcelona can do great things.