San Diego Loyal SC is starting to shape its roster for the 2021 season. Returning are seven stalwarts:
Sal Zizzo, Defender and Team Captain
Charlie Adams, Midfielder
Collin Martin, Midfielder
Elijah Martin, Defender
Jack Metcalf, Defender
Tumi Moshobane, Midfielder
Grant Stoneman, Defender
You might notice there aren’t any strikers on that list. Loyal SC addressed that position by adding one of USL Championship’s most potent scoring threats. Corey Hertzog is coming to San Diego from Reno 1868 FC. Over the last two years, Hertzog is 3rd in the league in goals.
“Since the day I started this job, I've had my eye on Corey and wanted to see him in Torrey Green,” said Landon Donovan, EVP of Soccer Operations and First Team Manager. “We are thrilled to have a player of his quality and experience join our team. His work ethic, goal scoring ability and leadership will be a huge asset to us in 2021 and beyond.”
He’s never played here before, but Hertzog has had his eye on San Diego since watching their inaugural match in March.
“I think a lot of clubs and players were following San Diego. It’s exciting like a U.S. legend like Landon Donovan starts a team in San Diego so I watched it very closely,” says Hertzog. “I was excited when Landon contacted me and said he was interested. It was a pretty exciting season for them, both on and off the field.”
And how did that conversation go, exactly?
“It was pretty crazy. I watched him growing up my whole life and as soon as he called saying he was interested it was a no-brainer,” says Hertzog. “It was exciting for me and my family. My mom was pretty excited when I called her and was like, guess who just called me? She said who? I said Landon Donovan. She was like … what? So, it was a cool experience for everyone.”
As good as the product was on the pitch it might be off the field that truly sold Corey on San Diego. The Loyal were one of the most dangerous clubs in soccer as the post-season approached.
“Playing for Reno (the top seed in the Western Conference), we didn’t want to see them in the playoffs,” says Hertzog. “We were happy that they didn’t make it but I was happy for Landon and the club when they started scoring goals and got so dangerous.”
Of course, the reason Loyal SC didn’t make the playoffs is they forfeited two matches to protect their players from racial and homophobic slurs. That, as much as anything, made Hertzog want to play for this organization.
“It stands for everything that I agree with. I mean, what they went through last year was crazy for their first year. I think they handled it perfectly and I agree with everything that they’ve done. It’s an honor to be able to come there and hopefully help out any way I can on and off the field,” says Hertzog.
Corey immediately donned a Loyal SC scarf for meetings with the media, something ubiquitous for soccer fans and players.
“I don’t want to say it makes you feel like home but it makes you feel part of the team as soon as possible. I mean, I signed with them and this is the first thing they sent so it’s like, you get the scarf and you’re finally getting into reality that you’re joining a new team. Over the last 12 years I’ve had a lot of scarves.”
Since being drafted by New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer a decade ago Hertzog, now 30 years old, has played in Wilmington, Edmonton, Vancouver, Orlando, Tampa, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Reno.
So, he and his family, including a 2-week-old son, are hoping for a nice long stay in America’s Finest City. Corey says the one thing he really wants to add to his resume is a USL Championship … or two.
The Loyal also signed defender Thomas Vancaeyezeele from Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. One of the most efficient back line players in the league, Vancaeyezeele was named the the All-USL Championship First Team in 2020.