The Portland Thorns have appointed former Concacaf goalkeeper and head of women’s football Karina LeBlanc as the team’s new general manager.
She is set to replace Gavin Wilkinson, who was placed on the administration of Thorns in the midst of sexual harassment and coercive charges against former coach Paul Riley.
LeBlanc has announced that she will leave her role at Concacaf to focus on her new position at Thorns.
“I felt this was the right move based on the players’ answers, because I think it’s time for everyone to understand that this is a moment in time where we pause, we learn, we realize what we can do better, and then we connect and then we get up, she said.
“And that’s how I look at it. It’s a time for all of us to join and get up. And I get to do it by knowing what it’s like to sit on the other side and play for the club and now know with all my years from experience in Concacaf and doing many things on a global level, I see a bigger picture. “
LeBlanc’s appointment was said to be well received by the players, after they also supported the removal of Wilkinson. While officially removed from the Thorns, Wilkinson remains general manager of the Major League Soccer franchise Portland Timbers.
The newest nominee is well versed in the club, having served as a goalkeeper for the Thorns during the 2013 season when the team won the first NWSL championship. LeBlanc lifted the league trophy before continuing to play for the Chicago Red Stars for two seasons.
“I came back because for me it’s a possibility,” she said.
“I will never forget my year as I played in this club. I will never forget how society made me feel. I will never forget how it felt to wear that shirt and have weapons on your heart. I will never forget the moments that people do not even know about, with my teammates.And that was one of those things when I was replaced, I was just like “You know what? I will come back. “
Internationally, LeBlanc made 110 appearances for the Canadian national team between 1998 and 2015.
“The global football network she has nurtured during her career has perfectly positioned her to lead Thorns, and it’s hard to think of anyone with a more innate leadership ability and unique mix of skills than Karina,” said Thorns owner Merritt Paulson.
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