Would Corey Hertzog Watch Corey Hertzog?
I’m the resident soccer geek on The Penn Stater staff, so I was excited to see this New York Times piece on former Nittany Lion star Corey Hertzog. It actually ran last week, when my household was under virtual quarantine as strep made its way through the family (we’re mostly feeling better, thanks). Anyway: As a junior last season, Hertzog led the nation in scoring; on a recommendation from pro scouts, he chose to bypass his senior season, and last week he was a first-round pick of the New York Red Bulls in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
I saw plenty of Hertzog last season at Jeffrey Field, and I’m not surprised MLS made him a priority. Soccer fans know that certain guys just have an innate knack for finding the back of the net, and Hertzog’s sublime touch and strong leg made him a natural goal-scorer. For proof, a stunning goal from 2009. That part where he lobs the ball to himself to set up the volley? He did that on purpose.
Fascinatingly, though, Hertzog isn’t much of a soccer fan. “I won’t go out of my way to watch a game,” Hertzog tells the Times; as any American “footy” fan knows, going out of our way is exactly how most of us have had to watch the teams we love over the years, getting up early on Saturday mornings or finding out-of-the-way bars with satellite hook-ups and accommodating bartenders.
The fact that Hertzog doesn’t actually care to watch the sport at which he excels makes him unusual, but it clearly hasn’t hurt his game. Happily, soccer is more easily viewed than ever in this country, which means that, in addition to seeing more of our favorite European clubs, we can watch more MLS games, too. The 2011 MLS season kicks off in March, and Hertzog might get a chance to play alongside Thierry Henry, the legendary French striker playing out his career in the growing American league. Hertzog’s own disinterest aside, more and more Americans do watch soccer. This summer, a lot of them might be watching him.
Ryan Jones, senior editor