With 74 goals and 29 assists in the USL Championship's regular season, Hartford Athletic's Corey Hertzog sits second all-time in the league's all-time goalscorers list. | Photo courtesy Hartford Athletic
Hartford Athletic’s Corey Hertzog has made almost 300 appearances across his professional career, competing at all three levels of the professional ranks in the United States.
The second-leading scorer in the USL Championship’s history with 74 regular season goals and 29 assists, Hertzog will be in the spotlight when Hartford hosts Louisville City FC at Trinity Health Stadium on Saturday (ESPN | 1 p.m. ET).
Ahead of the game, we caught up with the 31-year-old to find out what he’s learned over the course of his 12-year career.
The New York Red Bulls selected Hertzog No. 13 overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. At the time, the Red Bulls roster included French legend Thierry Henry.
- I did a really bad speech when I got drafted. I was just overwhelmed but also just so happy. It meant so much just for me and for my family, because of what they've gone through over 18 years with my soccer. It was a bad speech for me but a great moment for them.
- I wasn't ready as a rookie to not be in the team much. Growing up, I was always a starter. Always playing a lot of minutes and everything like that. Then, suddenly, I wasn’t.
- Watching Thierry Henry up close for two years set up my career. I don't think I would have had the same career if not for learning from him the first few years.
In 2012, Hertzog was loaned to then-USL Championship club Wilmington Hammerheads FC, where he earned All-League First Team honors and helped the team reach the Championship Final. It was the start of a peripatetic career that has seen him represent 11 clubs so far.
Corey Hertzog recorded 11 goals in 20 appearances for Wilmington Hammerheads FC to help lead the side to the 2012 USL Championship Final. | Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
- The times in Wilmington were pretty good on the sleeper buses. Leave Wednesday at midnight. Get to the games by Friday. Sleeper bus Friday night, play Sunday, then sleeper bus back. Pretty wild. It’s night and day compared to the Championship now.
- What makes a team special is when everyone is the same in the locker room and on the outside of the locker room.
- I haven't had an exit interview where they've said they wanted me back in all my career, I don’t think. Maybe one, maybe, in Pittsburgh.
- Always moving with a family is tough.
Over his career, Hertzog has crafted superstitions, built friendships, and shared hundreds of smoothies with fans.
- I have my superstitions. Every athlete does. I write stuff on the tape on my fingers and wrists. And whenever I come onto the field for warmups, I have to have a ball. Then, from inside the “D,” I like to drive a shot into the net in the air, finish it in the left corner and right corner. Little stuff like that.
- My best friends from soccer know who they are. I like how they play on the field and how they are off the field. They are all the same: just hard workers. I work hard on the field just like that.
- The smoothie thing started in St. Louis when a fan was, like, “There's a good smoothie place here.” I was, like, “OK, let's meet.” Soon we started meeting regularly and then more people started showing up. Eventually, there were, like, 40 people showing up for smoothies the morning before games. It was just fun. That kind of relationship with the fans helps the team grow.
At 31, Hertzog still has plenty of years left, if he chooses. He doesn’t know how long he will keep playing, but regardless, he will keep playing his way.
Hartford Athletic is the 11th professional club Corey Hertzog has represented in a career that has taken him to all four corners of North America. | Photo courtesy Hartford Athletic
- I grew up with my dad being the coach and never wanted to be that kid who people said, “Oh, you're only playing because your dad’s the coach.” So, I always worked harder and never gave up to prove myself to my teammates.
- My family motivates me. Just playing in front of them, my daughter and my son and my wife. Playing in front of them means the world.
- Play simple. That’s my philosophy. Do simple drills. Just simple finishing. Just get the ball on target.
- Work hard, never give up, and be confident in yourself. Know what you can do and know what you can bring to the team.
- I wasn't 100 percent I was ever going to be a professional soccer player. It just happened the way it did.