In the span of five months the expansion Philadelphia Independence have managed to add not one but two goalkeepers from the 2009 regular season champion Los Angeles SOL.
Philadelphia’s latest roster addition, Karina LeBlanc, arrives courtesy of the second pick in the league's recent dispersal draft. LeBlanc, by all accounts was the top keeper in Women’s Professional Soccer last season with an eye-popping 12 shutouts in 19 starts, that’s four more than Saint Louis Athletica backstop Hope Solo.
LeBlanc, who turns 30 next year, represented Canada at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2008 Olympics. She also played for the Boston Breakers of the now defunct Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) and for the New Jersey Wildcats of the W-League.
Back on Oct. 7, the Independence acquired SOL backup 'keeper Valerie Henderson and defender Allison Falk in exchange for Philadelphia’s first round pick (fifth overall) and its third round pick (22nd overall) in the 2010 WPS College Draft.
Needless to say, Philadelphia is solid in net.
With their second selection in the dispersal draft, the Independence used the 15 th pick overall to select defender Estelle Johnson. Johnson was actually selected by Los Angeles in the third round of the recent WPS college draft, 22nd overall out of Kansas.
With every move they make, Philadelphia positions itself as a dark horse pick for a run at this seasons WPS Championship. The pressure now is on head coach Paul Riley and his staff, to bring this very talented roster together and mold them into a playoff caliber club.
Prior to Philadelphia’s selection of LeBlanc in the dispersal draft, Saint Louis Athletic selected WPS All-Star Shannon Boxx with the first overall pick. Boxx, was L.A.’s captain and one of the world's best holding midfielders.
The big buzz however following the dispersal draft was F.C. Gold Prides selection of Marta, with the third pick. Marta who was voted FIFA World Player of the Year for a record fourth time, can now enjoy a nice drive up the Pacific Coast highway while making her transition from the City of Angeles to the City by the Bay.
Here's the result of the league dispersal draft held Jan. 3.
1. Shannon Boxx, M - Saint Louis Athletica *
2. Karina LeBlanc, GK - Philadelphia Independence
3. Marta, F - FC Gold Pride (Bay Area)
4. Casey Nogueira, F - Chicago Red Stars
5. Stephanie Cox, D - Boston Breakers
6. Nikki Washington, M - Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)
7. Brittany Bock, D - Washington Freedom
8. Aya Miyama, M - Saint Louis Athletica
9. Manya Makoski, M - Atlanta Beat
10. Faith Ikidi, D/F - Washington Freedom
11. Kiersten Dallstream, F - Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)
12. Michelle Enyeart, F - Boston Breakers
13. Kiki Bosio, F - FC Gold Pride (Bay Area) ^
14. Tina DiMartino, M - Saint Louis Athletica #
15. Estelle Johnson, D - Philadelphia Independence
16. Pavlina Scasna, F - Atlanta Beat
17. Pass - Atlanta Beat
18. Pass - Philadelphia Independence
19. Lindsay Browne, F - FC Gold Pride (Bay Area)
20. Pass - Chicago Red Stars
21. Pass - Boston Breakers
22. Pass - Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)
23. Pass - Washington Freedom
24. Catherine Sorenson, M - Saint Louis Athletica
* via trade with Atlanta Beat (trade prior to draft)
^ via trade with Chicago Red Stars (Chicago receives FC Gold Pride's second Round pick in 2011 WPS Draft)
# via trade with Chicago Red Stars (Chicago receives Saint Louis Athletica's second Round pick in 2011 WPS Draft)
Also: Goalkeeper Mary Casey is now a free agent; midfielder Julie Rydahl Bukh's WPS rights have been released.
The second WPS season begins April 10.
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