In what is likely the least surprising news of the postseason festivities, Real Salt Lake forward Corey Baird has been named the MLS Rookie of the Year.
It’s an award he completely deserves, given his goalscoring prowess and game-changing abilities. In his first professional year, Baird played in 31 of RSL’s 34 regular season games, scoring eight goals and earning five assists.
The award is the first for a Real Salt Lake player. Baird earned an average 44 percent of the vote, with the biggest skew coming in the media portion, in which he won 48 percent of the vote.
In a club-issued release, Baird attributed his success to the club’s veterans.
“It’s amazing. It’s something at the beginning of the year that I wasn’t even thinking about. The year has really taken off in a way I’ve never expected and never could have seen coming,” Baird said. “The veterans on the team are inclusive and very helpful with advice and encouragement. I think the club does a great job of integrating new guys. That was enormous for me and I can’t thank them enough for that.”
The release follows with comments from RSL general manager Craig Waibel, who attributes the success to Baird’s work ethic, as well as the coaching that brought him from an academy prospect, to a College Cup-winner, to a regular feature at RSL.
“We are extremely proud of Corey for his development over the course of the season. When he got an opportunity to get playing time, he took it and ran with it and had an incredibly productive season,” said RSL General Manager Craig Waibel. “It’s a great testament to his work ethic, but also how well-prepared he was to play at the professional level after playing under Jeremy Gunn at Stanford and Freddy Juarez and Martin Vasquez at the RSL Academy.”