Photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics
The latest in a recent run of signings, Burlingame Dragons forward Corey Baird has signed his first professional deal with Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake on a Homegrown contract.
Baird, who just completed his senior season at Stanford with a third-consecutive NCAA title, has been a key component of the Cardinal’s winning ways as a four-year starter with his collegiate team. Over 83 matches, Baird racked up 16 goals and 30 assists, most recently including an assist in the Cardinal’s College Cup victory over Akron that saw them through to the National Championship match and the team’s third title in three seasons.
“We couldn’t be prouder of Corey and what he’s accomplished in his four years,” said Chris Madden, PDL Co-Director. “His signing with Real Salt Lake is the result of countless hours of hard work, a development we’re proud to have contributed to in the past two PDL seasons that Corey has played with us.”
“As more young players sign professional deals via Homegrown contracts, we’re pleased that the PDL continues to play a significant role in their development,” said PDL Co-Director Mike Panter. “Our goal is to continue developing players like Corey, who shine throughout their youth and amateur careers and grow into professional-caliber talents. He represents another success of our path to professionalism, and we wish him the best in MLS.”
In addition to his standout career at Stanford, Baird played the past two summers in the PDL with the Burlingame Dragons, helping guide the club to a playoff appearance in 2016. Over his two seasons, Baird appeared in 16 matches for the Dragons, scoring two goals and assisting another. The Real Salt Lake Academy product has also spent time with the U17, U20 and U23 U.S. Men’s National Teams.
"This is an amazing feeling knowing that I'm signing with a team I played with four or five years ago at the Academy," Baird said in a team statement. "I'll be playing with a lot of guys I was playing with then so it will be good to get back on the field with them. I'm going to be working my hardest all the time for an opportunity on the field while trying to contribute as many goals and assists as I can."
"It's a rare thing for a player to win three college championships, so we are proud of Corey for accomplishing that feat and now we are excited to have that pedigree with our first team," said Real Salt Lake General Manager Craig Waibel. "He's a winner and he's the type of guy we want in our locker room."
A part of the United Soccer Leagues, which also operates the Division II USL, the newly-announced USL Division III and Super Y League, the PDL has served as the proven stepping-stone for aspiring professionals.
Nearly 70 percent of all MLS SuperDraft selections since 2010 have PDL experience, including a total of 59 alums chosen in 2017. Among the many players to have played in the PDL before making their professional debuts include Newcastle United FC defender DeAndre Yedlin, 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Tim Melia, 2017 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara and U.S. Men’s National Team members such as Darlington Nagbe, Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream.