Women's Football

Portland Thorns appoint Karina LeBlanc as new General Manager

Lizzy Becherano
Former goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc returns to the Thorns as General Manager
Former goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc returns to the Thorns as General Manager / Martin Rose/GettyImages

Portland Thorns have appointed former goalkeeper and Head of Women’s soccer for Concacaf Karina LeBlanc as the team’s new general manager.

She is set to replace Gavin Wilkinson, who was placed on administrative by the Thorns amid sexual harassment and coercion allegations made against former coach Paul Riley.

LeBlanc has announced she will step down from her role in Concacaf to focus on her new position with the Thorns.

"I felt that this was the right move based on the players' 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."

The newest appointee is well versed with the club, having acted as goalkeeper for the Thorns during the 2013 season when the team won the inaugural NWSL championship. LeBlanc lifted the league trophy before going on to play for the Chicago Red Stars for two seasons. 

"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.'"

Internationally, LeBlanc made 110 appearances for the Canada national team between 1998 and 2015. 

"The global soccer network she has fostered during her career has perfectly positioned her to lead the Thorns, and it is hard to think of anyone with a more innate leadership ability and unique blend of skills than Karina," Thorns owner Merritt Paulson said.