Written by Michael Lewis

Looks certainly can be deceiving.

Take, for instance. Roc Carles Puig. The Mataro, Spain native doesn’t look very imposing. He is 5-8 and 145 lbs. But when the midfielder is called upon, he turns into a bundle of energy that makes life difficult for the opposition. 

For his overall performance this past USL League Two season, Puig was named the Long Island Rough Riders rookie of the year, and no one appreciated him more than head coach Tom Bowen. 

Puig is competing in his junior season for Hofstra University but made his Rough Riders this past summer campaign. 

“His energy is contagious,” Bowen said. “He’s small. But he’s one of those players you would not like to play against. He seems to be all over the field. He’s in your face. He’s productive on both sides of the ball. He’s tenacious.” 

And then some.

 It certainly didn’t hurt that Puig and Albert Kang formed a near impenetrable force in the midfield. 

“Especially towards the end of the season in the playoffs, he was just he was a bundle of energy and a machine in the middle of the field for us,” Bowen said. “Really, he and Albert struck a hell of a partnership together. I wouldn’t like to play against them. They’re always in your face and around your ankles when you’ve got the ball and they don’t give you a minute’s peace. 

“He became a leader for us without an armband just in the way he led by example, really. We always joked around. Albert had an extra heart; Roc had an extra couple of lungs. They just did not stop running.”

 Bowen said Puig raised his game during the postseason.

 “Just the amount of running,” he said. “We’d love to have our GPS trackers on him and Alert Kang In the middle of the field. They just did not stop running.”

 Puig, who finished the season with four goals and two assists in 17 appearances, worked hard to set up the first goal in Long Island’s 2-1 victory over Vermont Green FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals on July 24.

 “That goal kind of typifies him,” Bowen said. “I think he gave the ball away initially and then he won it back and gives the ball to Ryan [Carmichael] and Ryan sends it in and Matt [Vowinkel] scores. He and Albert Kang did a lot of the dirty work that often goes often goes unappreciated and unseen in terms of just non=stop running and winning the ball back and give it to other players and give the opportunity for other players to shine. I think they’re a coach’s dream.”


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