Player's Player of the Year: Albert Kang

Written by Michael Lewis

Albert Kang’s stat line with the Long Island Rough Riders this past season hardly looked imposing.

He did not score a goal and assisted on one in 18 matches for the USL League Two side.

But the midfielder wasn’t in the Riders lineup to score goals, but to make sure the opposition didn’t.

Kang did his job so well that he was voted the Rough Riders’ players’ player of the year by his teammates.

That didn’t surprise Rough Riders head coach Tom Bowen, who said that Kang and Roc Carles Puig, the team’s rookie of the year, “play under the radar a little bit because they don’t necessarily record the stats that Ryan [Carmichael], Matt Vowinkel and Wessel [Speel] – in clean sheets and goals etc. Whereas these two, they chip in with the odd goal or assist here or there.”

There was nothing odd about Kang’s performance this past season.

Bowen said that the 5-10, 150-lb. Kang did “a lot of the dirty work “and allowed other players to shine.”

“It’s nice that the players recognize that dirty work,” he added. “I think both Roc and Albert just exemplify that they are just they’re all about – the team first mentality. That’s why they are two of the first names on the team sheet every single game.”

Kang has brought that work ethic to Loyola Maryland. The senior midfielder has played 51 games for the Greyhounds, scoring three goals, and adding three assists.

More often than not, Bowen asked the Vancouver, B.C. native to man mark “the other team’s special player.”

“And he really does that to a tee,” he added. “If you give him a role and you say, ‘Look, this guy’s dangerous for them, we need you to shut him down.’ He’s he just takes that, and he runs with it.”

Case in point: The Rough Riders’ 2-0 win over North Carolina Fusion Under-23 in the Eastern Conference final on Aug. 1.

“They had a special player, a No. 10 who I think is one of the best players in the country. Super creative, the game runs through him,” Bowen said. “We told Albert he had a job to shut him down. He really did it that day and that that allowed us to keep them off the board, keep him in particular quiet and helped us to win that national semifinal game. That was a special game for him.

“But other games, too. He’s one of those players that just will do whatever it takes for the team. He doesn’t need the limelight. He doesn’t need the stats. He doesn’t need anybody to tell him how great he is.”

When Bowen talks about Kang, Puig’s name inevitably comes up.

“They just enjoy doing that work,” he said. “You can’t talk about Roc without mentioning Kang and you can’t talk about Kang without mentioning Kang. They just they complemented each other so well and they just became a mainstay in the team in that in that center midfield position, the both of them.”


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