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Taylor Kornieck blossoming for San Diego Wave FC

Towering midfielder taking advantage of change of scenery.

SOCCER: APR 14 NWSL Challenge Cup - San Diego Wave FC at OL Reign Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Taylor Kornieck entered San Diego Wave FC’s debut campaign as a bit of a question mark, for better or worse.

The 23-year-old, who spent some of her youth in San Diego, had some effective spells as a target forward for the Orlando Pride, although she was drafted out of college as a midfielder.

Maybe that conclusion was a bit facile — Kornieck is listed as 6’1, and in a league where most of the defenders are far shorter than that, her ability to physically overpower opponents is real.

Obviously, she showed that in Sunday’s game at the Portland Thorns, when she scored her first goal for Wave FC.

But while Kornieck had been playing as a midfielder for the Pride previously in the NWSL, it was unclear if that was going to be her best position at the pro level. Orlando has historically struggled to have a coherent midfield, and so San Diego head coach Casey Stoney was asked more than once about how the midfield would come together this year.

Truthfully, Stoney never appeared concerned by her midfield options, with Kelsey Turnbow turning into an attacking midfielder and veteran Kristen McNabb shielding the defense. Emily Van Egmond hasn’t yet really found a rhythm at the club, and Kornieck has been a good fit as a box-to-box midfielder.

While San Diego are still trying to build their chemistry, it’s notable that Kornieck has plenty of chemistry already with Alex Morgan, who she played with in Orlando. In particular, Kornieck has a distinctive “sand wedge” chip pass she can hit with good accuracy, something she usually tries a few times a game. Here, she set up Morgan for a goal in Seattle last week.

There seems to be some real potential for Kornieck in San Diego moving forward. Able to body up opponents in midfield, pitching in on both ends of the field, she’s starting to find a knack for some offensive production, too. With Morgan in form at the moment and hopes that the likes of Turnbow, Sofia Jakobsson, Jodie Taylor, Katie Johnson, Amirah Ali and Belle Briede can get some regular production too, then San Diego hopefully won’t have a one-dimensional attack that can be shut down easily. If Kornieck can add a handful of goals and assists, that will help along the way.

In other words, not only has Kornieck’s play demonstrated she can play midfield in this league, but she seems to have potential to be a foundational piece for her team. Maybe she needed a change of scenery and she’s begun to blossom.

And look, if she can continue to serve as a super sub who scores as soon as she gets on the field, if nothing else she’ll have that role to fall back on.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.