Any time you can get a goalkeeper who's played in two World Cups, it's a good thing.
Well, almost any time.
The Independence picked up longtime Canadian national team goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc today in a dispersal draft held because the Los Angeles Sol went out of business last week.
The Sol reached the Women's Professional Soccer championship game last season. Their roster included Brazilian superstar Marta and U.S. national team veterans Shannon Boxx and Aly Wagner.
The team was originally owned by Anschtz Entertainment Group, which is one of the big investors in Major League Soccer, but AEG decided to sell the Sol after the season. AEG couldn't find a new owner, though, and the league couldn't get a deal done.
So what was probably WPS' marquee franchise folded on the eve of the league's second season. A dispersal draft was set up, and the Independence got the second pick in the first round.
St. Louis Athletica had the first pick, and selected Boxx. Marta went to San Francisco-based FC Gold Pride with the third pick.
Why didn't the Independence take Marta, the four-time reigning FIFA women's world player of the year? As Marc Narducci reported in this morning's Inquirer, the team could not afford to take on Marta's salary. She has a guaranteed contract of almost $500,000, which is by far the highest salary in the league.
Frankly, none of the teams in the league can really afford it. The contract was done because WPS really wanted Marta in the league. They knew they would have to shell out a lot of money to get her from Swedish club Umea, the top women's club team in Europe and one of the best in the world. The deal got done, but at quite a price.
Given how much money the Women's United Soccer Association lost in its brief existence, the WPS has rightly been extremely prudent with its spending. That the Sol went out of business after only one year raises a serious alarm, but you have to hope the ownership situation was an anomaly.
The Independence also acquired rookie defender Estelle Johnson, whom the Sol picked up in the third round of this year's college draft.
By the way, if you think you've seen LeBlanc's name on this blog before, you're right. She was the host of WPS' jersey unveiling party during the NSCAA convention.
The full draft results are below:
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 2nd Round pick in 2011 WPS Draft)
# via trade with Chicago Red Stars (Chicago receives Saint Louis Athletica's 2nd Round pick in 2011 WPS Draft)