In the 2022 player preview series, we are going to look at the current players on the Houston Dynamo roster, how they performed last season, and what we might expect from them in 2022. Here is the next in our series and stay tuned for more to come leading up to the start of the season.
Position – Wing/forward
2021 MLS stats – 20 appearances, 3 goals, 2 assists
Baird joined the Dynamo in July of 2021 after a trade with LAFC. The California native had three goals and two assists in thirteen matches with LA last season but failed to find the score sheet after coming to Houston. An in-season trade can be tough on players and Baird never really seemed to find his comfort zone with the Dynamo. He did post two shot creating actions per match with Houston, showing that his ability to create for others was still on display.
Tab Ramos’ system didn’t do a lot of players favors and Baird would certainly fall into that category. With that being said, after the move to Houston, Baird’s passing improved, and he shot more. His short time in Houston has shown glimpses and at just 26 years old, there is still some very good soccer left in Corey Baird.
Baird looks to be penciled in as a starter on one of the wings this season, opposite Fafa Picault. Paulo Nagamura will run out a 4-3-3 and the new head coach will put a lot of faith in his wingers supplying service to new Designated Player striker Sebastian Ferreira. Houston does not have a true number 10 in the midfield (depending on what Darwin Quintero’s role is), so both Baird and Picault will be critical in Ferreira and the Dynamo’s success in 2022.
If we look at Baird’s numbers from fbref.com, we see that a huge strength of his is on the defensive end. He ranked in the 92nd percentile of MLS forwards in both pressures and interceptions and averaged over a tackle per 90 minutes. Baird’s work rate and pressing can be a big asset for the Dynamo in winning back possession in their own half. If the team is not going to have someone creating scoring chances, another way to get those opportunities is forcing the opponent to turn the ball over.
Even with his defensive abilities, Baird is going to have to help offensively as well. If Ferreira is scoring goals it should lead to a solid number of assists from Baird. His attacking game will need to be on point. This is especially true considering Tyler Pasher will be itching to get minutes and Quintero could play as a wing. If Baird begins the season as a starter, he will have to perform well to keep his place in the starting eleven. The competition and a capable back up waiting the wings will hopefully spur Baird on to having a big season.
How do you feel about Corey Baird coming into this season? Let us know in the comments.