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LA Galaxy 2022 Player Postmortem: Riqui Puig

Barcelona product transformed Galaxy team upon arrival.

MLS: Nashville SC at LA Galaxy Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Riqui Puig...the best signing in LA Galaxy history?

Ok, that might be a bit over the top, you can probably put the likes of club legends Landon Donovan, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Robbie Keane, etc. ahead of Puig.

But best LA Galaxy signing in a decade? I think there’s a real case for that.

Put simply, the Catalan came to the Galaxy as a FC Barcelona product dumped out on the street by that club, as they attempted to evade complete insolvency for a few more months, and while you may wonder about the strategy of getting rid of the cheapest players on a squad in favor of players who cost orders of magnitude more, I digress.

Still, given how quickly the 23-year-old was chucked to the curb, plus his status among many Barcelona fans as a scapegoat, would he actually perform at MLS level, we wondered when he arrived?

He did! Puig not only hit the ground running for LA, he started producing instantly, and most importantly, he raised the level of the whole team. He was the most transformative player on the Galaxy, and I think you could make a case for the entire MLS, in 2022.

Here are Puig’s stats with the Galaxy in 2022:

Riqui Puig LA Galaxy 2022 Statistics

2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2022 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 10 9 827 3 5 26 11 1 0
U.S. Open Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 2 2 180 0 0 5 4 1 0
Total 12 11 1,007 3 5 31 15 2 0

Had Puig played more games, let’s say something more like 15 regular season games, I think he would have won MLS Newcomer of the Year. I myself voted for him anyway — the sample size was small, admittedly, but the change from “pre-Puig” to “with Puig” for the Galaxy was obvious and substantially improved.

But it’s rare for a player to fit snugly in a position of need for a team, which in this case was attacking midfield, perform well on a consistent basis, and again, make the rest of the team around him better. Before Puig arrived, the Galaxy posted a 10W-11L-3D record in the regular season. With him, they were 4W-1L-5D down the stretch in the regular season. They only lost two games with Puig total, and he wasn’t a guy who happened to be on the field in that run, he was central to it.

Don’t just take my word for it, Puig was absolutely elite as an attacking midfielder with the Galaxy, according to the player’s scouting report graph on

So yeah, he doesn’t defend well, but if you’re an A+ attacking mid, I think coaches can accept that, especially if you have specialist d-mids shielding him, which the Galaxy did.

In addition Puig was also 29th among MLS outfield players this year in American Soccer Analysis’ Goals added, with +1.84. Only Chicharito’s +2.01 outpaced Puig among Galaxy players.

Puig played 12 games, and I think he played 11 outstanding matches. He could score, he could assist, he could dribble or pass his way out of a double team, he understands space and knows where to be when he’s not on the ball, and he’s got a bit of scruff about him, willing to mix it up with an opponent and do what he has to to get under their skin, doubtless something he learned at Barcelona from Sergio Busquets, one of the best to do it.

But the only demerit on a stellar debut run with the Galaxy was his final game of 2022. Puig mixed it up in the opening minutes of the playoff El Trafico with LAFC defender Jesus David Murillo, neither player willing to back down, and for once, Puig appeared to bite off more than he could chew. He might have even drawn a red card for a “light head butt” on Murillo, but he managed to get a yellow card and stayed on the field the rest of the way. Unfortunately, whether it was the duel, the yellow card, or just an off night, but Puig really did not imprint himself on the game, for once, and the Galaxy lost by the narrowest of margins. If he was on his A-game, would they have embarrassed their local rivals in the game? We’ll never know but it sure seems like margins like that ultimately decided the game.

Ok, looking forward, what can we hope for with Puig? I think he should be aiming for an MLS Best XI campaign, easily, in 2023. Of course, there is the chance a European team notices how well he’s tearing things up and puts in a transfer bid for Puig. He is clearly cheaper to buy now than he would have been at Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean LA should settle for a lowball offer. I would hope they’re not holding out for, say, $40 million, because they’ll probably be waiting forever, but I would not be surprised in the least if a European club puts in a bid and he ultimately doesn’t stay for too long.

But, if he stays for all of 2023, all the better for the Galaxy. The objective will be to replicate what he did in 2022, across a full season, of course, and if that happens, the Galaxy should be competing for a title of some kind. After the leap the team took with him, it’s not inconceivable and should be the aim next year. And if that happens, chances are that Riqui Puig will be playing a central role in taking the Galaxy to lofty heights once again. If that happens, maybe we can start thinking about his signing in the all-time Galaxy pantheon.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.