Canada’s Christine Sinclair breaks international goal-scoring record

Tim and Sid discuss Christine Sinclair scoring the 185th goal of her international career placing her in first ahead of Abby Wambach.

EDINBURG, Texas — Christine Sinclair says she lives her life "trying to be the best Canadian that I can, in my own way."

On Wednesday, the Canada captain accomplished that and a whole lot more while making an entire nation proud. The 36-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., made soccer history, notching goals No. 184 and 185 to pass retired American Abby Wambach and become the world’s all-time leading goal-scorer.

The relief of getting the record was evident after the game as Sinclair met the media following a champagne bath from her teammates. And the shy striker known as Sinc or Sincy opened up a little — about her status as soccer icon and role model.

"It’s not something I really think about," she said. "I’m just me. I’m private, I’m quiet. I’ll speak up when I need to … Hopefully I’m an example for others, especially like young kids. Show them what’s possible when you dream those crazy dreams and put in the work.

"But most of all, I just try to be a good Canadian day after day."

Sinclair scored the milestone 185th goal in the 26th minute in an 11-0 romp over outmatched St. Kitts and Nevis at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship at H-E-B Park in south Texas.

Jessie Fleming stole the ball from a St. Kitts player and sent it to an onrushing Adriana Leon in space. Leon and Sinclair found themselves on a two-on-one and Leon passed the ball to an unmarked Sinclair, who took a touch with her left foot and then slotted the ball into the corner with her right foot from six yards out.

A smiling Sinclair turned, her arms outstretched, and then pumped her fists before Leon arrived to hug her. The goal celebration continued at the sideline with Sinclair rolling the ball into her teammates, who went down like bowling pins.

Behind her, the Canadian substitutes had donned goat masks to honour the Greatest Of All Time. Apparently printable goat masks are available online these days.

"What an experience to be on the field with Sinc in this moment," added midfielder Sophie Schmidt. "I’m so proud of her. I think all of Canada is so proud of her."

"We are just so honoured to play with her," said midfielder Desiree Scott.

Sinclair said Leon had told her before the game: "Don’t worry, I’ve got you." And when Leon delivered the ball, Sinclair said the only thing going through her mind was "don’t mess up … just don’t miss the net."

"Seriously," she added. "And then when it went in, just a relief to be honest — in the best possible way."

And then in typical Sinclair fashion: "More important things to focus on now."

Goal No. 184 came in the seventh minute as Canada pressed from the get-go and a defender bundled Sinclair down in the penalty box.

Referee Crystal Sobers of Trinidad and Tobago pointed to the spot immediately. Unlike the round-of-16 match against Sweden at the World Cup last summer, when Sinclair ceded the spot kick to Janine Beckie, the skipper took charge.

Sinclair walked over to the goal-line to retrieve the ball, walked back to the spot and then rolled it to the right of St. Kitts goalkeeper Kyra Dickinson to tie Wambach. Once again Sinclair put the ball where the keeper wasn’t.

St. Kitts, ranked 127th in the world, offered little resistance against eighth-ranked Canada in a game that was one-way traffic.

St. Kitts, whose population of 54,000 is about that of North Bay, Ont. becomes the 41st country Sinclair has scored on. Her A to Z of goal victims ranges from Argentina to Zimbabwe.

Ironically the historic goals came against a Canadian. Dickinson is from Brampton, Ont., one of a half-dozen Canadian-based players on the St. Kitts roster through family bloodlines.

Sinclair had a chance at her hat trick in first-half stoppage time but shot just high. She started the second half but gave way in the 47th minute to 18-year-old Jordyn Huitema.

It was job done for the Canadian skipper. Very well done.

Leon (12th, 26th, 43rd and 80th minutes), Ashley Lawrence (18th and 57th), Jayde Riviere (49th), Fleming (54th) and Huitema (74th) also scored for Canada in the rout.

Canada outshot St. Kitts 42-2 (16-2 in shots on target) and had 67 per cent possession.

Sadly not many were on hand to see history in the making, with the stadium virtually empty. Mexico beat Jamaica 1-0 in the marquee nightcap game, given that time no doubt because of Edinburg’s close proximity to the border.

Sinclair was playing in her 290th career game for Canada. Wambach, who retired in 2015, compiled her total in 255 games.

Wambach tweeted her congratulations.

"Christine: History is made. Your victory is our victory. We celebrate with you. And to every girl coming up in the Pack with a dream to achieve that which doesn’t yet even exist: We believe in you. Your Pack is with you. And history awaits you."

CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, a fellow Canadian, called Sinclair’s record "an amazing feat."

"She transcends the sport and is a wonderful role model for people across the country."

Added Canada Soccer president Steven Reed: "Christine’s achievements have made her an icon in Canada. She transcends the sport and is a wonderful role model for people across the country."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: "She did it! Christine Sinclair is now international soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer. Congratulations, @sincy12 — you rock!"

The goal chase focused plenty of attention on the shy Sinclair, who was eager to get the record just to get it off the news agenda.

"Let’s goooo Sincy!!!" former NBA star Steve Nash tweeted ahead of the game.

Sinclair’s 185 goals are more than Cristiano Ronaldo (99) and Pele (77) combined. Ali Daei leads the men’s international goal list with 109 in 149 appearances for Iran between 1993 and 2006.

Dwayne De Rosario tops Canadian men in scoring with 22 goals in 81 games, although 20-year-old Jonathan David is making waves with 11 goals in just 12 appearances.

Canada continues Group B play Saturday against No. 51 Jamaica before facing No. 26 Mexico on Feb. 4. Sinclair has 11 career goals against Jamaica and 16 against Mexico.

The top-two teams in the group will then join the top-two from Group A (No. 21 U.S., No. 37 Costa Rica, No. 53 Panama and No. 68 Haiti) in the semifinals in Carson, Calif. The semifinal winners book their tickets to Tokyo, representing the region covering North and Central America and the Caribbean.

The Canadians have finished runner-up to the U.S. in the last three CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers. They finished third in 2004, failing to make the Olympics after an upset loss to Mexico.

Canada is coming off back-to back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. But the Canadian women have had some off performances since a disappointing round-of-16 exit at the hands of Sweden at last summer’s World Cup.

Canada lost back-to-back 4-0 games in Asia against No. 10 Japan and No. 9 Brazil in October and November before bouncing back to blank No. 23 New Zealand 3-0 with Sinclair scoring goal No. 183.

With Canada facing a possible five games in 12 days, coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller blended in some youth in his starting 11.

Kailen Sheridan got the start in goal — and could have slept through the match given her lack of work — behind a back three of Kadeisha Buchanan, Shelina Zadorsky and Sophie Schmidt with 19-year-old Riviere, 21-year-old Gabby Carle, 19-year-old Julia Grosso, Fleming and Lawrence in the midfield and Sinclair and Leon up front.

It was tough debut at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifier for the unheralded Sugar Girlz, who made it here by winning their Caribbean qualifying group. St. Kitts, whose part-time coach is 32-year-old American Jene Baclawski, went 3-0-1 in outscoring host Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, and Guyana 20-2.

"As for the players from St. Kitts, they should hold their heads high," said Sinclair. "They should be proud of what they did. They never gave up. They fought for 90 minutes. They’re only going to get better as a country."

Baclawski said her team recognized it had been part of history, albeit at the wrong end.

"It’s remarkable. I’m proud of her. I’m proud of what she’s been able to do. I’m proud of the precedents she’s set," she said of Sinclair.

Other Canadian-based St. Kitts players include Brittney Lawrence, Kaleah Smith and the three Uddenberg sisters — 14-year-old Kayla, 17-year-old Cloey and 19-year-old Carley.

Baclawski noted that Sinclair had scored 53 goals before Kayla Uddenberg had been born.

Wambach now 39, broke fellow American Mia Hamm’s record haul of 158 in 2013 with a four-goal performance against South Korea.

Hamm was quick to congratulate Sinclair.

"Simply amazing! Congratulations, Christine on becoming the all-time international goals leader. You continue to carry yourself and the game to new heights. Thank you."

The U.S. women’s team also offered kudos.

"We know greatness when we see it. Congrats … We tip our hats to you," the team said on its official Twitter feed, adding a goat emoji.

Sinclair was 16 when she made her senior debut March 12, 2000, becoming Canada’s youngest-ever player at the time. She opened her scoring account one game later, beating star goalkeeper Bente Nordby in a 2-1 loss to Norway two days later at the Algarve Cup.

Sinclair’s glittering career has already garnered the Portland Thorns captain a slew of honours.

In December, she was named the Canada Soccer player of the decade. Sinclair has won Canada Soccer’s female player of the year 14 times and led the Canadian team in scoring 16 years.

Sinclair, who led Canada to back-to-back Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016, was named the 2012 Lou Marsh Trophy and Bobbie Rosenfeld Award winner.

Canada’s flag-bearer at the London Olympics closing ceremonies in 2012, Sinclair is also the first soccer player appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada and the first to have her name engraved on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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