The Philadelphia Independence have signed U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, The Equalizer has confirmed. Barnhart won the 2010 WPS Championship with FC Gold Pride, but the team folded in November, leaving Barnhart and her teammates as free agents.
During that championship run, Barnhart played in 21 regular season games for FC Gold Pride, accumulating a goals against average of 0.77. That number led the league. Chicago’s Jillian Loyden was the next closest with a 1.17 GAA. Barnhart made 73 saves and secured eight shutouts, also a league high. FC Gold Pride’s defense gave up a league-best 19 goals in 24 regular season games (0.79 GAA).
With two first-choice goalkeepers, Philadelphia Head Coach Paul Riley now finds himself in a similar situation as 2010. Last year, Karina LeBlanc and Val Henderson split time in net for Philadelphia. Now, Henderson will compete with Barnhart. After the season that Barnhart had in 2010, that will be tough. However, Barnhart is expected to miss significant time this season on U.S. Women’s National Team duty. Henderson proved in 2010 she is fully capable of being the No. 1 goalkeeper when called upon. Henderson also played behind LeBlanc with the Los Angeles Sol in 2009.
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