USWNT roster breakdown: Taylor Kornieck changes shape of midfield

(Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

San Diego Wave star Taylor Kornieck made a surprise appearance on USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski’s 23-player roster for July’s 2022 Concacaf W Championship, marking her first national team call-up.

The July competition will decide four automatic berths to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, as well as one berth to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

While Kornieck is new to the USWNT, she is a familiar name to NWSL fans. The 23-year-old was selected third overall in the 2020 NWSL Draft by the Orlando Pride before finding her way to the San Diego Wave this year for the club’s inaugural season. Standing at just over six feet tall, Kornieck’s height sets her apart as a substantial aerial threat in front of the goal.

The midfielder is more than her height, though, with Wave coach Casey Stoney praising Korneick as “coachable” and “worthy” of a USWNT call-up.

“People think she is just in there for her height, look at her feet, look at how she uses her feet, how she uses the ball and dictated the game,” Stoney said after Kornieck’s brace on June 8 against the Portland Thorns.

Kornieck’s inclusion in the USWNT midfield comes at a time when the traditionally deep position has been thinned out by injury. Sam Mewis is still rehabbing her knee, while Julie Ertz is out due to pregnancy.

Catarina Macario’s recent ACL tear is also a factor in the USWNT’s changing midfield, with the star striker’s absence potentially shifting the squad’s game plan.

In top form for San Diego, Alex Morgan is the prospective No. 9 for USWNT in place of Macario. Kornieck and Morgan have played together for the entirety of Kornieck’s professional career, with the duo’s chemistry evident in the final third.

Kornieck is also a jack of all trades in the center of the pitch, playing an important defensive role for the Wave, which is of particular value for the USWNT right now.

Midfielders Rose Lavelle and Ashley Sanchez have similar creative attacking abilities, as does Kristie Mewis. With the defensive midfield position in a state of flux without Ertz and given Andi Sullivan’s recent injuries, having a box-to-box midfielder able to command the center of the pitch on hand will be critical.

The first of two June friendlies against Colombia is scheduled for Saturday, June 25, at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET.