On Nov. 17, Albert Puig was named the head coach of Albirex Niigata in Japan, just nine days removed from his departure as an assistant coach at New York City FC.
Puig, along with head coach Dome Torrent and fellow associates Jordi Gris, Francesc Cos and Ismael Camenforte, mutually agreed to part ways with the Eastern Conference regular season champions.
Puig, who joined Torrent and NYCFC in June of 2018, is the former Technical Director of the DeAnza Force Soccer Club in California and from 2010-14 was the Technical Director of the famed Barcelona Academy, La Masia.
Pro Soccer USA’s Glenn Crooks spoke with the Catalan who showed appreciation for Torrent in his move from an academy to a first team position in Major League Soccer.
“I enjoyed working with Dome because I needed to work with that big coach to understand some concepts of some different organizations,” Puig said. “He’s a master.”
This is Puig’s first managerial role on the professional level and he explained that coaching in Japan was a destination for him.
“All the time in my life my idea was to go to Japan,” he said.
“Respect – that is the word,” Puig said. “In Europe and South America it’s more crazy. Here they have the respect of the coach, respect of the players.”
With over three years in the states including two as a director of an American club, Puig shared his thoughts about developing the elite player.
“After 16, a player needs strong competition – in the Unites States you don’t have this,” he said. “The academy in 16, 17, 18 is a low, low level in comparison to Europe and South America – it really is a low level.”
Puig said he enjoyed his experience in MLS and did not discount the possibility of a return some day.
“I never say no to anything,” Puig said. “Me and my family, we lived three years in the United States — California and New York and we were so, so happy. I am very thankful. I don’t know what will happen in the future but, why not?”