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Thorns appoint former goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc as general manager

Thorns general manager Gavin Wilkinson was placed on leave last month pending an investigation into the team's handling of ex-players' sexual harassment allegations.
Credit: Mitchelldyer/Portland Thorns

PORTLAND, Ore — The Portland Thorns announced on Monday that former goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc has been named their new general manager. The 41-year-old will oversee technical operations of the club while also having an "integral voice" on key business decisions, according to a news release.

LeBlanc helped the Thorns win the NWSL Championship in its first season in 2013. 

She is currently the head of women's soccer for the confederation for North and Central American and Caribbean soccer (Concacaf). LeBlanc plans to step down from that role to focus on the Thorns.

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"I am proud of how we were able to move the game forward. I loved the work I did there, but I missed being around the game, players and the energy of Portland. This is an opportunity to do something that truly matters for a city, a club and a league that’s given me so much," said LeBlanc in a statement.

Thorns owner and CEO Merritt Paulson said he could not be more excited to welcome LeBlanc back to Portland.

“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," said Paulson.

The move comes almost one month after former general manager Gavin Wilkinson was placed on leave pending an investigation into the Thorn's handling of former players' sexual harassment allegations against former coach Paul Riley. KGW reached out to the Thorns on Monday and asked if Wilkinson was fired or left the team. The Thorns said they have "restructured" and Wilkinson will remain the general manager of the Timbers.

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