More than a poacher? Corey Hertzog gives Vancouver Whitecaps options after strong showing

Corey Hertzog vs. Edmonton

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – Corey Hertzog isn’t just a poacher.

At least, that’s what the 22-year-old Pennsylvania native can say on Wednesday night after hitting a cracking, 35-yard effort against FC Edmonton in a 2-0 win in the second leg of the Canadian Championship semifinals.

“I usually have one a season like that,” the halftime substitute told reporters at BC Place following the 5-2 aggregate victory. “So there’ll probably be a lot more close ones than that – usually [I score] around the 18 [yard box].”

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Hertzog said he didn’t see anything in particular from Edmonton’s goalkeeper Lance Parker on the play, but liked the way the ball sat up after a headed pass into space from teammate Russell Teibert.

“I just figured it was taking that hop and I just hit it right off the half-volley,” Hertzog said. “It was a nice shot.”

This latest effort marks Hertzog’s second goal in all competitions from four matches played after bagging an equalizer in Vancouver’s 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on April 6.

Since then, he figured in the Whitecaps’ 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake on April 13, but a concussion suffered in training after that match meant he’s been twiddling his thumbs waiting for clearance to get back into the action.

Still, this latest strong performance is encouraging for a player who figured in just five games in 2011 for the New York Red Bulls before spending time on loan with the third-division Wilmington Hammerheads last year.

“The past two years have been difficult for me, just playing reserve games and that,” Hertzog said. “It just feels good to finally come to a team that I can be a part of and help out win some games and score some goals, so as a forward there’s nothing better than scoring some goals.”

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Now the challenge for Hertzog is to once again make a push for a starting MLS spot after his concussion. And given the team’s rut in league play, in which the ‘Caps are now winless in six and struggling in front of goal with just nine goals from eight matches, there’s seemingly a window for him to walk right back into the team.

“It will give us some food for thought,” head coach Martin Rennie said of Hertzog’s goalscoring return. “I think the lineup on Saturday will be different to the lineup that we had tonight, but there’s definitely a few things for us to think through and make decisions on.

“A couple of guys definitely did themselves justice tonight.”