Head of women’s soccer for CONCACAF and former Portland Thorns goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc has been named as the team’s new general manager, replacing Gavin Wilkinson. He was placed on administrative leave by the Thorns in the wake of sexual harassment and coercion allegations made against former coach Paul Riley.
LeBlanc will step down from her role in CONCACAF to focus on her new general manager position.
Speaking to The Associated Press, she said she spoke to the players at the club and felt she could make a difference.
“I felt that this was the right move based on their [the players at the club] response, because I think it’s time that everyone understands 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 rise,” she said.
“And that’s how I’m looking at it. It’s a time for us all to connect and rise. And I get to do that knowing what it’s like to sit on the other side and playing for the club and now knowing with all my years of experience in CONCACAF and doing a lot of things at the global level, I see a bigger picture.”
LeBlanc was goalkeeper for the Thorns in the 2013 season, when the team won the inaugural NWSL championship. She went on to play for two seasons with the Chicago Red Stars.
“I came back because for me, it’s an opportunity,” she said. “I will never forget my year playing at this club. I’ll never forget how the community made me feel. I’ll never forget what it felt to put that jersey on, and have the crest on your heart. I will never forget the moments that people don’t even know about, with my teammates. And it was one of those things when I got traded away, I was just like, `You know what? I’m going to come back.'”
LeBlanc also made 110 appearances for the Canada national team between 1998 and 2015. She has served in her role with CONCACAF since 2018.
The Thorns won the NWSL Shield this season for the league’s best regular-season record. Portland has a bye for the first round of the playoffs, which start this weekend.