Canadian goalkeeper Labbe takes medical leave from NWSL club

Canadian international goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe is taking a medical leave of absence from the Washington Spirit for the remainder of the NWSL season.

Neither Labbe nor the soccer team gave a reason for the leave but Labbe, who was born in Edmonton, Alta., has been candid in recent weeks about her struggle with depression.

“The decision was not an easy one, but after much deliberation we have concluded that this is what’s best for me at this time,” Labbe said in a short social media post.

Labbe, who helped Canada to a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, has started 17 games this season for the Spirit.

“Steph has been an important part of our team the past two seasons and has grown and developed as a player and person,” Jim Gabarra, Washington’s head coach and GM, said in a statement Wednesday.

“We have had discussions over the last couple of weeks and believe she needs some additional time away. We support and will continue to support Steph throughout this process.”

In an August interview with The Associated Press, Labbe said she chose to be upfront about her battle with depression, not just to help others but to help herself as well.

“I wanted people to see I am human, I do have troubles and things don’t always come easy,” she said. “You don’t become an Olympic medallist overnight and even after you do become an Olympian it doesn’t make everything go away and you have this perfect life.”

The 30-year-old from Edmonton has won 44 caps for Canada.

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