USL PRO Feature
Friday, February 14, 2014
BRADENTON, Fla. – As one of the newest members of Orlando City, the objective for former USL PRO All-League forward Corey Hertzog couldn’t be clearer as he prepares for the new season.
“I just felt like I could come down here and make an impact on the team and get some games,” Hertzog said after his first appearance for the Lions on Tuesday night. “The past couple of years I haven’t that many games, so I want to get playing and start scoring some goals.”
In the past, goals have never been hard to come by for the former Reading United standout. A Super Y-League ODP selection who attended camp alongside other standouts such as the Chicago Fire’s Dilly Duka, Houston Dynamo’s Tony Cascio, D.C United’s Nick DeLeon and the Portland Timbers’ Darlington Nagbe in 2008, Hertzog’s ability to find the back of the net shone through in the PDL and also in his time at Penn State, where he led the nation in 2010 with 20 goals.
His ability in front of goal brought the opportunity to leave school early and turn pro as a Generation adidas player, which brought him to the New York Red Bulls. Hertzog said the time he spent in Reading not only helped him prepare for his college season, but also to make the step up to MLS.
“Playing for Reading United in the PDL got me ready to go in MLS,” he said. “They bring in good players from all around that are also playing in MLS now, so it’s just a great squad to practice with and get used to the speed of play and everything.”
After limited playing time as a rookie with the Red Bulls, Hertzog was sent on loan in 2012 to the Wilmington Hammerheads, where he again displayed his scoring prowess. With nine goals in 17 regular-season games he was a finalist for the league MVP award, but he shone the brightest in the postseason as his pair of goals helped propel the Hammerheads to a shock 4-3 semifinal win against Orlando, and into the championship game.
“I think it was one of those games,” Hertzog said of the semifinal. “Playing any game down there was awesome; it was a great experience for me to get some game time and it helped me learn a lot.”
Now, as he joins the Lions, Orlando coach Adrian Heath is hoping that he can have the same impact for his side that he did for the Hammerheads. As a former forward, Heath is also looking forward to helping Hertzog sharpen his game as he looks to regain his form.
“We’re hoping that we can work with him and make his movement a little bit better in the box, make sure his finishing is better,” Heath said. “These are all things that are about polishing him up. He’s proved that he can score a goal and now we’re going to make sure we work with him so we know where he is, and what he’s looking for. I’m excited that he’s come in because I think he can score goals for us.”
Hertzog is also looking forward to learning from Heath as he looks to put together a confidence-building season for the Lions.
“I’ve heard all good things about him and I’m excited to get in and learn a lot,” he said. “Hopefully he can teach me a lot of stuff.”
As he looks to work his way into form over the next six weeks before the Lions kick off the season against the Charleston Battery on March 22, Hertzog will get the opportunity to stake a claim to be the lone striker in Orlando’s 4-2-3-1 system ahead of another player looking for a big season, Dennis Chin. Heath is looking forward to the competition Hertzog will provide the longtime Lions standout.
“We always tell the players that the best player plays,” Heath said. “Once the season starts whoever starts the season well and gets the shirt, it’s up to him to keep it, and if he starts and starts scoring goals he’s got every chance.”
And as has been proven in the past, give Hertzog a chance, odds are he’ll take it. If he does, the Lions will likely end their USL PRO era with a bang.