San Diego Wave: The importance of Taylor Kornieck’s return from injury

Taylor Kornieck San Diego Wave 2023 Chicago Red Stars

Credit: Jeremy Collins/EVT Sports

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Credit: Nicole Noel/ EVT Sports

Taylor Kornieck made her first start with the San Diego Wave since April 19 this past Wednesday, May 31, against OL Reign in the NWSL Challenge Cup. Kornieck’s first match back from injury came on May 20, against the Houston Dash away from home, and her first match back at home came on Friday, May 26, against the Portland Thorns.

The 24-year-old midfielder received a huge ovation by over 18 thousand fans at Snapdragon Stadium when she replaced Makenzy Doniak in the 54th minute of that game. Kornieck expressed how important it was for her to be back in the post-game press conference on May 26. Kornieck said, “It means everything. It’s been a long month. I did everything in my power to get back as fast as possible. This is my favorite place to be and I’m just so happy that I can return and get a lot of minutes today. I love this stadium (Snapdragon), and I’m so grateful to be back.”

In Kornieck’s first start back against OL Reign in the Challenge Cup, the Troy, Mich. native played 62 minutes before being replaced by Danielle Colaprico. It was not the best game for the San Diego Wave in general, as the team suffered their worst-ever loss at Snapdragon Stadium, losing 3-0.

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However, Kornieck showcased her versatility playing all over the midfield, at times in a deep midfield role and other times in a more attacking position. Kornieck brings this to the team and also brings her immense physicality that very few players in the NWSL can offer. Sometimes this can be a double-edged sword with the way referees call her fouls, but it also has the potential to greatly benefit any team Kornieck defends.

San Diego Wave head coach Casey Stoney shared her thoughts about Kornieck’s road back and the midfielder’s chance to come back with the USWNT. “For her personally, it’s been incredibly tough to have an injury that’s out of your control. It’s a roster spot that you’re fighting for and trying to fight back, incredibly difficult for her, and time’s of the essence. But I think, at the same time, Vlatko knows what she can do. Vlatko’s very aware of her strengths and what she brings to his roster. It’s up to him whether he chooses to take her to the World Cup, but I think actually having valuable minutes tonight and then building up that fitness in return so that she is peaked. If she’s fit, available, and ready to go, that will certainly help her psychologically”, Stoney said.

This NWSL season certainly means a lot more individually for each player fighting for a roster spot on their respective national teams. Kornieck is one of these players, as she is greatly considered by Vlatko Andonovski due to her unique capabilities.

As the World Cup approaches, Kornieck is likely to return to the consistent starting role for Casey Stoney, given her great importance before the injury and last season.

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