LAFC announced Monday they have acquired forward Corey Baird in a trade with Real Salt Lake. In exchange for the player, LAFC sent RSL $500,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) spread across 2021 and 2022, a 2021 international roster slot and future considerations.
“Corey is a dynamic attacker and we are excited to welcome a player of his caliber and qualities,” said LAFC Co-President & General Manager John Thorrington in a team statement. “We are confident he will prove to be a great fit into how we play and will help us achieve our ambitions as a club in the years to come.”
The 24-year-old has played three seasons in MLS, where he signed as a Homegrown ahead of the 2018 campaign. MLS Rookie of the Year in 2018, where he scored eight goals and five assists in 31 regular-season appearances, Baird has 15 goals and 13 assists in 83 regular-season appearances to date in his MLS career.
Baird is a Southern California native, growing up in Escondido, and before turning pro was part of the Stanford University team that won three consecutive NCAA championships.
He’s a player who’s got some versatility in attack. With RSL he’s played as a central striker, a wide forward/winger, and has even moved back into more of a midfield role on occasion. Like many forwards, I think he’s done the most damage when playing as a No. 9, but his ability to play in different spots on the field suits LAFC’s style of play.
It is a pretty steep price to get him, and while the market for MLS trades may be changing with teams opting to be a bit pickier when it comes to signing players on the international transfer market, I think many would consider Baird’s high point so far to have been his rookie season, with diminishing returns since. Was that because he already hit his peak as a player or because of continuous turbulence at RSL? LAFC are clearly betting it’s the latter reason.
This is certainly an intriguing move, and we’ll see how Baird performs in Bob Bradley’s system. Welcome to Los Angeles!
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