Sinclair says she’s been waiting for this Canadian team

Christine Sinclair has spent 19 years with the national team

While Christine Sinclair edges closer to the all-time international goals record, her team will be chasing a title.

Fifth-ranked Canada embarks on its Women’s World Cup quest in France with its captain sitting at 181 career goals — four away from breaking former U.S. star Abby Wambach’s global record (among men and women) of 184.

READ MORE: Sinclair scores goal No. 181 as Canada heads to World Cup on winning note

Sinclair has spent 19 years with the national team, time during which Canada has seen its profile rise dramatically on the international stage. Known for being soft-spoken and humble, she’d rather keep the focus on the team.

“My time on the national team has been a roller coaster, a journey, ups and downs. And I can honestly say I’ve been waiting my entire career for this team, in that we’re so talented and have the depth to be able to compete at World Cups and Olympics. That excites me,” she said. “We’re just so much more talented than we’ve ever been.”

Now 35, it will be Sinclair’s fifth, and likely last, World Cup.

“It’s unbelievable what she’s done. I mean it’s a privilege to play with her. I think anyone who has played with Sinc knows what kind of leader she is, how humble she is given what she’s done. She’s literally the best forward that’s ever played the game,” teammate Diana Matheson said. “Her attitude and what kind of teammate she has been is just second to none for every time, every team she plays for.”

The Canadians were dealt a blow when Matheson was recently ruled out of the World Cup because of a toe injury. A national team regular since her debut in 2003, Matheson collected her 200th cap with the team during the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Texas last fall.

Also sitting out the World Cup is veteran goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who has plantar fasciitis. She had appeared in the previous four World Cups for Canada.

Matheson, who plays for the Utah Royals in the National Women’s Soccer League, issued a statement expressing her disappointment.

“Unfortunately, despite great support from Canada Soccer and Utah Royals FC, I am unable to play through this injury and will be undergoing surgery as soon as possible to start the recovery process,” she said. “I look forward to cheering on our team from home along with the rest of Canada.”

The Canadians have won two straight bronze medals at the Olympics, but they’ve never been on the podium at soccer’s most prestigious tournament. Their best result was a fourth-place finish in 2003.

It was disappointing four years ago when Canada hosted the World Cup and lost to England in the quarterfinals. The United States beat Japan in the final in Vancouver for the title.

Since then, there has been some change at the top. John Herdman, who coached the increasingly successful team for eight seasons, has taken over the Canadian men’s national team. He was replaced last year by Kenneth Heiner-Moller, the former coach of the Danish women’s team who was an assistant on Herdman’s staff at the 2015 World Cup.

Without McLeod, Canada will turn to Stephanie Labbé, who also plays for the North Carolina Courage. Adriana Leon, a 26-year-old forward who plays for West Ham United, had a pair of goals during qualifying, as did forward Janine Beckie, who plays for Manchester City. Midfielder Sophie Schmidt, 30, is expected to play in her fourth World Cup.

Canada, in Group E in France, will open the tournament with Cameroon on June 10 in Montpellier before travelling to Grenoble to play New Zealand. The Canadians wrap up the group on June 20 in Reims against the Netherlands.

Sinclair hopes Canada creates a legacy to build on long after she’s gone.

“We’ve got an amazing group of veterans that all do their fair share leading this group. We all have our different strengths and weaknesses in helping younger players,” Sinclair said after a recent exhibition. “Just the connection we have — whether you’ve been on the team for a few years like myself or this is your first year — I hope we provide a safe and welcoming environment where everyone has a voice and feels important. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”

Anne M. Peterson, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Robert Barron column: Where are the fringe candidates?

Make this election more interesting and informative for everybody

Somenos Marsh viewing tower near completion

October a busy month for the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society

Andrea Rondeau column: Reckoning coming on vaping

Those producing and selling vaping products have convinced a whole new generation to smoke

Popular Parkrun comes to Cowichan

Shawnigan Hills joins global phenomenon starting on Sept. 28

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor World Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Most Read