A Late Run Into the League: Former SDSU Standout Joe Corona Finally Arrives in MLS
By Hector Trujillo
All good things come to those who wait and that saying also applies to the most talented of soccer players. Former San Diego State University standout Joe Corona, who made a name for himself playing both in Liga Mx and for the U.S. Men's National Team, has now made his move to Major League Soccer, signing for the LA Galaxy. The March 6th announcement regarding the 28-year-old midfielder's signing was made possible using what is known as Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) which can not be used on a homegrown player previously signed to an MLS team.
TAM may be used to convert a current designated player to a non-designated player by buying down, on a prorated basis, his salary budget charge to at or below the maximum budget charge. Corona won two CONCACAF Gold Cups in 2013 and 2017 playing with the USMNT was not subject to the league's allocation order, which is designed to more fairly distribute US internationals and youth players or MLS returning players after having been previously sold for a half million dollar fee minimum.
Corona played his freshman year at SDSU (2008-2009) before entering the professional ranks with the Xolos in 2010. He also had the opportunity to play with other Liga Mx teams such as Tiburones de Veracruz, Dorados de Sinaloa and Club América. Despite only playing his freshman year with the Aztecs, those who had the pleasure of coaching him knew his talents and passion for the game would take him very far.
"A move to the MLS at some point was of great interest to Joe in my conversations with him," said SDSU men's soccer head coach Lev Kirshner. "So it didn't come as a big surprise to me in that regard. From my side I'm very excited to get to that game, all be it (Xolos) are closer, it's much more difficult to get in and out."
There is no question that Kirshner, who started his career at SDSU as an assistant coach in 1997 and has been at the helm of the men's soccer team since 2000, has coached some great talent during his tenure of which Joe Corona ranks with the best of them.
Among the other notable Aztecs who have made a name for themselves in the soccer world over the last two decades are Kraig Chiles who played forward in 2008 for Chivas USA and is currently the all-time leading scorer of the Major Arena Soccer League's San Diego Sockers, goalkeeper Tally Hall who played for the Houston Dynamo, Orlando City SC and DC United during his eight year MLS career, midfielder Damian German who currently plays in the USL for the Real Monarchs, defender Steven Beitashour who is playing his tenth season in the MLS currently for LAFC, and defender Daniel Steres who is now Corona's teammate with the LA Galaxy.
"Joe is a very cerebral player, he was always above our team in skill and above our team soccer IQ-wise, Kirshner added. "In the Mexican league not only was he technically and intellectually capable, but showed he had a tireless work ethic".
It's also worth noting that Corona's talents and standout performance in the 2013 Gold Cup definitely caught the eye of former US Men's National Team head coach Jürgen Klinsmann. Corona along with Tally Hall made it to the final round of cuts for the 2014 US World Cup Team held in Brazil where the US would make it to the round of 16 before losing in extra time to Belgium by a score of 2-1.
"His mentality and ability is going to help him be successful wherever he goes," said SDSU men's soccer associate coach Matt Hall. "Joe is one of the most humble and hardworking people I've met. We got so lucky with him as far as recruitment goes". Having now played his first game as part of the LA Galaxy squad against Dallas FC on March 9th, Corona can bring all that experience playing at the international level to help his new team make it to the playoffs in 2019 (a feat the LA Galaxy fell short of last season after blowing a 2-0 lead to the Houston Dynamo in the final game of the season).
"I think he is going to fit in well with Zlatan and the Galaxy players. They are piecing together a group that is going to play some good futbol," Kirshner said.