If you had told most RSL fans at the beginning of the 2018 season that Corey Baird would not only play 31 matches, with 21 of those being starts, but that he also would score 8 goals, have 5 assists and become RSL’s first ever rookie of the year, very few would have believed you.
At the beginning of the season, no one expected Baird to be our striker. Most people assumed it’d be Alfredo Ortuno and Albert Rusnak scoring the goals. Well, when that whole Alfredo thing kind of failed, it left the opportunity wide open to Baird. He took that opportunity and made the absolute best out of it.
Baird won three national championships in four years at Stanford. The kid is used to winning. Based on the history of Mike Petke’s coaching Real Salt Lake, people expected him to get some minutes. Petke usually gives people a chance to prove themselves if they work hard. But very few people expected Baird to take off like he did. Even when he wasn’t scoring goals he was playing soccer like he had way more years under him that he did. Sure he wasn’t perfect, but for a 22 year old kid to earn himself nearly 2,000 minutes in his first season, no one could have predicted that.
Baird is like a shining star on Real Salt Lake’s 2018 season. He came in, put his head down and went to work. He didn’t get injured and he played hard. He was rewarded for that, in 2018 Baird not only won rookie of the year but he was invited to the 2019 January camp for the senior USMNT and was added to the travel roster following it.
There’s not too much else to say about Baird other than “wow.” His future is as bright as his 2018 was. This kid had an incredible 2018 and there is no reason not to expect the same from him in the future. There’s a reason he was voted #2 on the team in his rookie year.
Here’s hoping in 2019 we see more starts for Baird but more importantly, more goals.