Sky Blue FC Adds Veteran Leadership

Chapman and LeBlanc bring 181 international caps to Sky Blue FC (Photos by ISI Photos).

Canadian National Team Goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, Defender Candace Chapman Join Club

One day after confirming the addition of Dutch striker Manon Melis, Sky Blue FC of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) announced on Wednesday that the team has come to terms with goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc and defender Candace Chapman. The duo, which also plays for the Canadian National Team, will provide Sky Blue FC with veteran leadership both on the field and in the locker room.

“We are very excited to have Karina come back to New Jersey,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra said of LeBlanc, who helped bring the 2005 USL W-League Championship to the New Jersey Wildcats and additionally coached at Rutgers University. “She is a very flamboyant and experienced goalkeeper who will bring a lot of leadership to the field in terms of motivation. She will be a great addition for us in goal, as well as personality-wise.”

Amid a standout career at the University of Nebraska, LeBlanc made her debut for the Canadian National Team in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup against China. Affectionately known as KK, she has since recorded 90 caps on the international stage and has been named to four consecutive World Cup rosters. When she was just 21-years-old, the former Husker was signed by the Boston Breakers of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), remaining with the club for three seasons. After joining the Montreal Xtreme of the USL W-League in 2004, she then arrived in the Garden State and helped bring the league crown to the Wildcats the following year. When WPS announced its formation in 2009, LeBlanc was selected by the Los Angeles Sol fifth overall in the inaugural general draft of the league, backstopping the Sol to the regular season title. After spending time with the Philadelphia Independence and magicJack SC during the past two years, LeBlanc now returns to New Jersey to continue her playing career.

“KK is an experienced, international class goalkeeper,” Sky Blue FC assistant coach Emma Hayes remarked. “She will lead from the back, is a great organizer and brings a lot of spirit and intensity to the team. We are delighted to bring her back to New Jersey.”

When Chapman arrives in the Garden State next year, she will become the only player in WPS history to have played for all three league champions. After suiting up for the Breakers in 2009, she helped anchor the defense of FC Gold Pride and the Western New York Flash over the past two seasons, capping off each year with a WPS Championship. The University of Notre Dame graduate has played with the Canadian National Team since 2002, earning 91 caps and netting six goals. She began her club career with the Toronto Inferno of the USL W-League in 2001 and then joined the Atlanta Silverbacks in 2005 before spending three seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps. In her first year with the Canadian club, she helped bring the Whitecaps its second title in three years.

“Candace helps us address our central defender needs with someone who is a calm player, and she will organize and motivate our team in the back as well,” Gabarra commented. “She has very good international experience and has also won championships in each of the past two seasons. We think that type of success and leadership will now carry over to us here in New Jersey.”

Hayes, who played a key role in assembling the roster for Western New York’s championship side this past year, agreed with the thoughts of Gabarra.

“I recruited Candace for the Flash and am delighted to bring her to Sky Blue FC,” she stated. “She is quick, tough and has great leadership. Jim and I are building this team from the back, and we are delighted to have a world class center back.”

With these two significant additions to the 2012 roster, Sky Blue FC President Thomas Hofstetter could not help but voice his excitement as well.

“It is great to see Karina return to New Jersey,” he remarked. “She has a huge following here and brings a lot of experience and leadership to Sky Blue FC. With Karina we are adding another important part to our team roster. Referring to Candace, I am very excited to see another experienced player join our team. Her skills and leadership compliment our roster very nicely and will help us to reach our goals for the 2012 season."

While terms have been reached with both LeBlanc and Chapman, all team transactions are not official until confirmed by WPS.

Don’t miss out on the excitement of Women’s Professional Soccer! 2012 Sky Blue FC season and flex tickets are currently on sale now, beginning at less than $100. Fans who are interested in purchasing can do so today by calling the team at 888-SBFC-TIX.

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