The Philadelphia Independence traded Canadian international goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc to the Chicago Red Stars Tuesday in exchange for Chicago’s first round (3rd overall) and third round (19th overall) draft picks in the 2011 WPS Draft.
LeBlanc split time with Val Henderson for Philadelphia, which lost 4-0 to FC Gold Pride in the 2010 WPS Championship Sept. 26. In 14 starts with Philadelphia in 2010, LeBlanc posted a record of 5-5-4 and a 1.5 goals against average. Chicago goalkeeper Jillian Loyden boasted a 1.17 goals against average in 2010, the second best in WPS.
“We feel that we need additional depth given the potential for extensive national team call-ups during a Women’s World Cup year, for Jill or any other players,” Red Stars Head Coach Omid Namazi said.
If Loyden stays in Chicago, that would create a similar situation LeBlanc faced in Philadelphia, where the top two goalkeepers were legitimately worthy of starting. Namazi’s point about the Women’s World Cup does not seem to solve national team call-up issues since the U.S. and Canada both have significant chances of making the tournament. That would mean both LeBlanc (Canada) and Loyden (U.S.) would be facing call-ups throughout the spring and summer.
For Philadelphia, the trade means parting ways with LeBlanc but clearly moving forward with Henderson in goal.
“KK has been brilliant for our franchise both on and off the field, and it is unfortunate she is leaving,” Independence Head Coach Paul Riley said. “She is not only one of the top goalkeepers in the world; she is also fantastic with the fans. Her energy and passion typifies our Inaugural season. She epitomizes what is expected of every professional at the Independence, and I want to thank her for all that she has done. I wish her tremendous success in Chicago, unless of course we are playing them.”
In Chicago LeBlanc also reunites with Charlie Naimo, the Red Stars’ technical director, who coached her in 2009 with the Los Angeles Sol and in the W-League with the New Jersey Wildcats in 2005 and 2006.