Karina LeBlanc is the Thorns’ new GM. Here’s my conversation with her!
The IX: Soccer Monday with Anne M. Peterson, November 1, 2021
So I held off on filing Soccer Monday today because of some breaking news: Karina LeBlanc is taking over as general manager of the Thorns.
LeBlanc is the former goalkeeper for the Portland Thorns and the Canadian national team. Currently, she’s the head of women’s soccer for CONCACAF, but she plans to step down from that post to focus on the Thorns.
Karina is wonderful, by the way. I first met/interviewed her in 2013 when she was part of the Portland team that won the first-ever NWSL title. I spoke to her again at the 2015 World Cup in Canada, when she was part of a FIFPro panel on women’s soccer. Throughout the years our paths have crossed several times. She’s a good hire.
I spoke to her shortly after the announcement was made. You can watch part of the interview below. Here’s my story for The AP. (Please click!)
She’s focused on lifting the team and the league out of a turbulent time. She spoke to the players this weekend.
“I felt that this was the right move based on their 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. 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 Timbers will retain Gavin Wilkinson as GM. I’m not sure if that will appease the fan base, but at least he’s no longer on the Thorns’ side. And you couldn’t ask for a more enthusiastic ambassador than LeBlanc.
LeBlanc told me she met with Wilkinson before taking the job. She felt it was vital to not only taking the job, but moving forward.
“I did have a conversation with Gavin because for me, I wanted to know what type of environment I was walking into. Obviously there’s things we’re not allowed to discuss. But it’s one of those things where, I’ve asked enough questions to different people. And first of all, just to Gavin, to make sure that I wasn’t walking into an environment where he didn’t want me there. Because if anybody’s going into a new job, you want to make sure you’re going into a place where you’re invited and you don’t have enemies. And that was apparent that he was absolutely for this. And I think for me, the conversations, I’m not walking in and knowing everything. I think that’s what one of the things as an athlete, you is you put your hand up and be like: I’m great at this, but this is where I need help.'”
Again, check out some of my interview below.
Meanwhile, there’s more abuse in women’s soccer coming to light. While it saddens me that this is happening, I’m glad that organizations are waking up and taking allegations seriously.
In Canada, Major League Soccer announced Friday it was investigating allegations against former Whitecaps women’s coach, Hubert Busby Jr. Former player Malloree Enoch came forward and told her story to The Guardian.
You might remember that Ciara McCormack’s bravery is the reason former coach Bob Birada is facing serious charges in Canada.
But a bigger question: Why is Busby still the current coach of the Jamaican national team?
Also, there’s a new documentary that details the abuse players from Spain’s national team faced under coach Ignacio Quereda. Some of this was already documented, when Vero Boquette and other players took a stand against Quereda following the 2015 World Cup. But the documentary, called “Breaking the Silence” delves into the abuse — which includes physical abuse. The look on Vicky Losada’s face when he berates her during a game is just heartbreaking.
Here’s the documentary with subtitles. It is worth your time. (And I’m not sure who posted this, but thank you!)
And one last note: Way to go, KC Current. Love this.
I didn’t even get to the playoffs: Here’s a good rundown from Jeff Kassouf with The Equalizer.
Here’s The Athletic’s early look at the playoffs.
Nice story here on Racing’s Cheyna Matthews from Rachael Kriger for The Equalizer.
The Kansas City Star on Kansas City’s rebrand.
Meg Linehan with just the quintessential piece on Lloyd for The Athletic. People magazine covered Carli Lloyd’s final regular season game with Gotham. She scored.
Jonathan Tannenwald with a story on the young players who emerged in Carli Lloyd’s last game. Tannenwald also wrote about Lloyd’s family coming together just in time for her goodbye tour.
Caitlin Murray wrote about Lloyd’s legacy for ESPN.
Steph Yang spoke to some of Carli’s friends for a warm tribute in The Athletic.
The AP on Kansas City’s planed stadium.
AP’s story on the Whitecaps investigation.
AP’s Rob Harris spoke to Nadine Kessler about possible changes for UEFA World Cup qualifying.
ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle on the NWSL agreeing to meet the players association’s demands in the wake of the abuse scandal.
Julia Poe spoke to players about the development for the Orlando Sentinel. Oh, and Julia is leaving the beat! Super sad about this, but excited to see what’s next. Julia’s an absolute pro, and a joy to read.
The IX Interview: Karina LeBlanc
Trying something a bit different with this one. I spoke to Karina LeBlanc shortly after she was named GM. Here’s part of our conversation. I thought rather than reading the interview, it might be cool for you to just watch it.
So here you go.