Real Salt Lake FW Corey Baird Named 2018 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year

SANDY, Utah (Monday, Nov. 5, 2018)Major League Soccer announced today that Real Salt Lake FW Corey Baird has been named the 2018 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year.

Signed as a Homegrown Player during the offseason, Baird flourished in his first professional season, registering eight goals to lead all rookies while also tallying five assists. Baird established himself as an impact player for RSL as the club compiled a 6-2-2 record in regular season matches where he recorded either a goal or an assist.  The 22-year-old’s contributions were crucial to RSL securing a spot in the postseason, as the club finished the season ranked sixth in the Western Conference (49 points, 14-13-7 overall record).

“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.”

Baird becomes the third academy product ever, and second in the last three years, to win the AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year Award, following in the footsteps of 2016 winner and former Stanford University teammate Jordan Morris. The rookie scored his first professional goal in only his second MLS game ever, scoring in an appearance off the bench on March 30 against Toronto FC. A week later, Baird started his first ever match and registered his first professional assist in a 2-1 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC on April 7. On August 25 when facing the rival Colorado Rapids, Baird recorded his most productive game of the season, scoring one goal and registering two assists in a 6-0 victory. Baird helped RSL to an 11-2-4 home record, tied for the top mark in the Western Conference.

A three-time NCAA champion at Stanford, Baird appeared in 31 regular season matches for RSL this season, registering 1,903 minutes over 21 starts. Baird’s eight goals scored tied for the seventh-most in a season by a rookie in MLS history.

“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.”

The award was voted on by MLS club technical staff, media and current MLS players. Below is a breakdown of the voting results:

AT&T Rookie of the Year

Player Vote %

Media Vote %

Club Vote %

Average %

Corey Baird (RSL)

40.12%

47.84%

43.69%

43.88%

Chris Mueller (ORL)

13.47%

13.27%

29.13%

18.62%

Mark McKenzie (PHI)

9.88%

22.84%

12.62%

15.11%

Joao Moutinho (LFC)

8.98%

4.94%

3.88%

5.93%

Alex Roldan (SEA)

4.79%

4.01%

0.97%

3.26%

All-Time AT&T Rookie of the Year Winners

2018: Corey Baird – Real Salt Lake
2017: Julian Gressel – Atlanta United
2016: Jordan Morris – Seattle Sounders FC
2015: Cyle Larin – Orlando City SC
2014: Tesho Akindele – FC Dallas
2013: Dillon Powers – Colorado Rapids
2012: Austin Berry – Chicago Fire
2011: C.J. Sapong – Sporting Kansas City
2010: Andy Najar – D.C. United
2009: Omar Gonzalez – LA Galaxy
2008: Sean Franklin – LA Galaxy
2007: Maurice Edu – Toronto FC
2006: Jonathan Bornstein – Chivas USA
2005: Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
2004: Clint Dempsey – New England Revolution
2003: Damani Ralph – Chicago Fire
2002: Kyle Martino – Columbus Crew
2001: Rodrigo Faria – MetroStars
2000: Carlos Bocanegra – Chicago Fire
1999: Jay Heaps – Miami Fusion
1998: Ben Olsen – D.C. United
1997: Mike Duhaney – Tampa Bay Mutiny
1996: Steve Ralston – Tampa Bay Mutiny 

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