One Big Question: Does Corey Baird have another level to hit?
Nobody expected that much from Baird when he joined RSL as a Homegrown out of Stanford ahead of the 2018 season, but we were all dumb and wrong. Baird, playing sometimes as a winger and often as a sort of floating, false 9-style center forward, grabbed 8g/5a in 1900 minutes as a rookie, winning the 2018 Rookie of the Year trophy and earning himself a few USMNT caps to boot.
It all felt like it should've rocketed him forward into 2019, but it didn't really work that way. Baird (and the rest of the RSL attack, to be fair) mostly struggled last season, failing to create chances at a high enough rate and failing to convert the chances they did manage to create with enough regularity. His sophomore season was more or less disappointing, with just 5g/4a in 2100 minutes.
RSL – and Baird himself – need to unlock more of this:
That is one of the most stunning first-touch-and-finish sequences of the year. It is glorious.
Is that who Baird is, or who he can be with more consistency? Let me put it like this:
I doubted the ability of Baird's old college teammate, Jordan Morris, to elevate his game as a winger and become a match-winning player at that spot. By the second half of last season he was arguably the second-best winger in the league behind Carlos Vela, and was doing the damn thing for club & country.
There is no reason Baird can't make that same type of progress. A 10g/10a season is not an unreasonable ask for a player with his skillset.