In a move clearly made to clear some cap space, Karina LeBlanc was traded to the Chicago Red Stars in exchange for a 2015 second-round draft pick.
In the Thorns' championship winning season, LeBlanc anchored a defense that put up seven shutouts and eleven wins, while making 92 saves along the way.
However, LeBlanc was adored by Thorns fans for more than just her contributions on the pitch. Her joyous personality and love of the game helped to give the franchise an identity as it came together.
LeBlanc was replaced on the roster earlier today when the team brought in German keeper, and 2013 Ballon d'Or winner, Nadine Angerer.
We will really miss Karina. She was such a big part of team here. Didn't want to lose her but also respect her wish to maximize playing time— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) January 13, 2014
The Thorns' press release:
THORNS FC ACQUIRE SECOND-ROUND PICK IN 2015 NWSL DRAFT FROM CHICAGO IN EXCHANGE FOR GOALKEEPER KARINA LEBLANC
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Thorns FC have acquired a second-round pick in the 2015 National Women’s Soccer League College Draft from the Chicago Red Stars in exchange for goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, it was announced today.
LeBlanc, 33, finished the inaugural NWSL season with a league-leading 11 wins, while ranking second overall with 92 saves in 21 appearances in 2013. The Canadian international was twice named NWSL Player of the Week (Week 11, 14) and stopped two of four penalty kicks faced during the regular season. LeBlanc compiled a 0.86 goals-against average during two NWSL Playoff matches, helping Thorns FC capture its first league championship.
"Karina is a first-class person and player and a great professional," Thorns FC general manager Gavin Wilkinson said. "She helped the club succeed both on and off the field last year. We wish her all the best in the future and thank her for her contributions to Portland Thorns FC."
"Karina is a class act and she will be missed in Portland," head coach Paul Riley said. "Having brought one of the top goalkeepers in the world to the Thorns in Nadine Angerer, we realized how important it is for Karina to play regularly so close to a World Cup. Giving her a trade to Chicago will enable her to achieve her personal goals. She proved her leadership and shot saving ability in helping Portland win the NWSL championship and I want to thank her and wish her all the best in Chicago and with all her future endeavors."