Meet the Breakers: Rhian Wilkinson and Adriana Leon

Canadians bring mix of veteran leadership and raw talent

 Currently at opposite ends of the national team spectrum, one having played for Canada for the past decade, the other just breaking into the squad, Rhian Wilkinson and Adriana Leon come to Boston ready to play and bring their varying skill sets to the city of champions.

Currently at opposite ends of the national team spectrum, one having played for Canada for the past decade, the other just breaking into the squad, Rhian Wilkinson and Adriana Leon come to Boston ready to play and bring their varying skill sets to the city of champions.

One of the most highly respected defenders in the international game, Wilkinson carries a strong veteran presence, one that will compliment the Breakers backline. 

"I can’t even guess how many games I’ve played against Wilkinson on the National Team," Boston Breakers and U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Heather O’Reilly said. "I’m excited to have her on my side this time."

Defender Rhian Wilkinson has been capped 134 times for Canada

Wilkinson has spent the better part of the last seven years in Europe with both club and country. She played in Norway’s top-flight league, Toppserien, beginning in 2005 for Team Strømmen (since renamed to LSK Kvinner FK). She began her post-collegiate career in 2003 in the W-League, playing for the Ottawa Fury. She won the league’s scoring title with 13 goals and also finished with 12 assists to earn W-League All-Star Team honors in 2003. In 2005, she was named to the W-League All-Championship Team. This will be the 30-year-olds first time playing for a professional team in the U.S.

"I’ve heard great things about the city, so I was really excited when I heard I would be going to Boston,"Wilkinson said. "I’m looking forward to meeting my new teammates, and from what I’ve seen, I think we have a really strong group with some really talented players."

Born in Pointe-Claire, QC, Wilkinson earned her first cap with the Canadian National Team on April 26, 2003, against the U.S. She has 134 caps (107 starts) in nine years with Canada and has appeared in three FIFA Women’s World Cups with the senior team (2003, 2007, 2011). She won a bronze medal with Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. It didn’t take long for Wilkinson to make an impact on the international scene. She scored her first goal just three months after her debut. It came in a 2-1 win over Brazil.
 
Her athleticism began to shine through as a youngster, and not just in soccer. She started playing the game as a 5-year-old but later took up ice hockey and rugby. Her strength was evenly spread out through the three sports, but when it came time to take one path, Wilkinson chose soccer. She earned a spot on the University of Tennessee women’s soccer team in 2000. She made an immediate impact. As a freshman, Wilkinson led the Vols in goals (12), assists (nine), points (33), game-winning goals (four), and shots (84). In three seasons at Tennessee, Wilkinson finished with 22 goals and 25 assists in 51 games.
 
Most recently, Wilkinson played for Canada at the Yongchuan Cup in China. Her last game with Canada came on Jan. 16, a scoreless draw against Norway. Wilkinson has since returned home, but will soon head to Boston to begin training with the Breakers. 
 
"I’ve always been a big fan of the different women’s soccer leagues that have existed in the U.S.," Wilkinson said. "So I’m really looking forward to the kickoff of the NWSL season."
 
One of Canada’s rising stars, Adriana Leon earned her first call-up to the senior team just this year when Canada Coach John Herdman named her to the roster for the Yongchuan Cup. Having international experience fresh under her belt, Leon lands in Boston in just a couple months. 
 
"Boston is a lovely city, so I couldn’t be happier about being allocated to the Breakers," she said. "This is going to be a big opportunity for me to make my professional debut and play with some of the most experienced players in the world."
 
An emerging star for Canada, Adriana Leon recently earned her first call-up to the senior squad
 
Leon, who’s from King City, Ontario, may best be known here in the U.S. for her game-winning goal in the 2010 College Cup, a goal that gave Notre Dame a 1-0 win over Stanford, bringing home the NCAA Championship. Her 28th-minute wonder strike was all the Fighting Irish needed to take the title. Leon followed that up with a solid sophomore season with the Irish. She finished second on the team with 17 points (six goals and five assists).
 
In two seasons at Notre Dame, Leon scored 10 goals to go along with seven assists. She then transferred to the University of Florida, where she played this past fall. In 22 games with the Gators, Leon netted five goals (four game-winners) and added two assists. Prior to starting the 2012 season with the Gators, Leon was in Japan with the Canada U-20 National Team, competing at the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She scored three goals in Canada’s opening-round win over Argentina.
 
Leon’s University of Florida teammate and Boston’s third round draft pick in the 2013 NWSL Draft, Jo Dragotta, had plenty of praise for the 20-year-old.

"Dri is a very talented soccer player. Our Florida team was extremely fortunate to have her this past season," Dragotta said. "I don’t know any other way to put it other than she has a little swag on the soccer field. She’s tough and very competitive, two characteristics that made her a great player for both Florida and Canada. Not to mention she shoots like a guy." 
 
With a quality strike and a knack for scoring, Leon has been nothing short of consistent for Canada. She led her team in goals scored during U-20 CONCACAF Qualifying, and as a member of Team Ontario in 2009, Leon scored in every match of the 2009 Canada Summer Games. Canada took home the bronze.
 
Much like Wilkinson, Leon is a multi-sport athlete. From 2007-2009, she won four gold medals playing for the Toronto Aeros Midget ice hockey team. Leon also played rugby and volleyball.
 
Get your tickets now at www.breakerstickets.com and be sure to catch Rhian and Adriana in action for the Breakers in the 2013 NWSL season.
 

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