Ever since leaving the New York Red Bulls to join USL Pro’s Wilmington Hammerheads on loan in May, Corey Hertzog has found ways to make an impact.
Hertzog put forth a Man of the Match-worthy performance with two goals and one assist in his first start for the third-division club, and never slowed down. This past weekend he finished the regular season, coming in second place in total points with nine goals and five assists, including a goal-scoring outing in a win that snuck Wilmington into the playoffs on the final matchday of the regular season.
“Obviously he can score goals and you can’t make goalscorers,” Hammerheads head coach David Irving told MLSsoccer.com. “You either can score goals or you can’t. He’s doing unbelievable for us.”
“He’s definitely got a good eye for goal and he’s very good in the last third and he shoots the ball well and gets his shot off quickly and he’s a potent goalscorer. We know what we were going to get and it’s been a win-win for everybody.”
The young forward is now focusing on carrying that type of productivity over to the USL Pro postseason. Hertzog and the Hammerheads are not favored to win it all but, regardless of how they do in the playoffs, nothing will change how grateful he is to Wilmington for them initially reaching out to the Red Bulls to acquire him this past spring.
“Every player wants to play games and show what they can do,” the 22-year-old Hertzog told MLSsoccer.com. “I’m just glad for this opportunity to be able to come down here and play games and score goals. I’m really happy for that. You can’t just train every single day and not have any games, or four or five games a year. It was a great experience for me to come down and get some games and goals and assists.”
While Hertzog’s development has benefited from steady playing time, there is of course room for improvement. He has impressive goalscoring instincts according to Irving, but it is the rest of his game that needs to be fine-tuned. That, however, can only happen if he continues to receive minutes.
“It’s a lot of elements, holding the ball up, his link-up play, making better runs in the channel, timing his runs better, just things like that will make him a better player, all-around player,” said Irving. “He’s got the goalscoring part of it and he’ll figure the game out, but he has to play the game. Practice is practice and games is games. It’s day and night.”
Wilmington’s season could end this weekend or it could end on September 8 following the USL Pro Championship. Either way, Hertzog’s loan is set to expire soon and that means he will be back on a Red Bulls roster that has grown in quality since his departure.
Minutes back in New York will likely be sparse, which makes his task in Wilmington that much more urgent.
“I’m just going to try and finish out the season here, score a couple more goals, try to win the championship and then worry about that when I come back,” said Hertzog. “There’s no point in me worrying about something that I can’t control.”