Christine Sinclair Archive

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Alberta goalkeepers star for Canada’s women’s team on Commonwealth turf

Erin McLeod

Erin McLeod

A friendly match on a cool Edmonton autumn night resulted in a 3-0 victory for the Canadian women’s soccer team over South Korea.

The conditions were about as good as you could ask for during this season at Commonwealth Stadium. Though the CFL lines were still visible on the turf, the atmosphere that the crowd of over 12,000 provided made that Canadian football stadium a European football stadium.

Despite a home-field advantage, it wasn’t Canada but rather South Korea whom developed the majority of the scoring chances in the first half. However, a great save made in the eighth minute by Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod set the tone for what was to come for the rest of the half.

McLeod admitted that her teammates might not have been “game fit,” considering that this is the first time they’ve played together in a while. However, she showed no signs of rust. McLeod put on a clinic; making key saves to keep the pressing South Koreans off of the scoreboard.

“I don’t think [McLeod] ever has [any rust],” forward Christine Sinclair said.

Even head coach John Herdman was very impressed with his goalkeeper.

“[McLeod] is arguably the best [female goalkeeper] in the world,” Herdman said.
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Incoming Edmonton mayor non-committal on turf change on Clarke

Edmonton Mayor Elect Don Iveson, left, and Christine Sinclair show off the ticket prices for the U-20 World Cup. They were at Edmonton City Hall for the event launch.

Edmonton Mayor Elect Don Iveson, left, and Christine Sinclair show off the ticket prices for the U-20 World Cup. They were at Edmonton City Hall for the event launch.

Edmonton Mayor Elect Don Iveson will be sworn into the new job Tuesday. His election win was the biggest blowout the city has seen since the Oilers were winning Stanley Cups.

And, on Monday, in one of his first official duties as the city’s head, he stood at City Hall, alongside Canadian Soccer Association President Victor Montagliani and Canadian women’s national team players Carmelina Moscato, Erin McLeod and Christine Sinclair to kick off ticket sales for the 2014 U-20 World Cup. Seven of the games will be played in Edmonton.

Iveson spoke of how the previous city council decided to spend millions to upgrade Commonwealth Stadium ahead of the 2014 U-20 World Cup and the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Edmonton will host more games in the 2015 WWC than any other city, including Canada’s first two matches.

But, for Edmonton soccer fans, there is more interest in hearing what Iveson has to say about the facility next door to Commonwealth Stadium. Clarke Stadium could be a practice facility for the women’s teams that come through Edmonton in the next two years. It’s adjacent to the Commonwealth Stadium fitness centre.

FC Edmonton owner Tom Fath has put new stands in Clarke to up capacity to a little more than 4,000. But the turf is at the end of its 10-year lifespan, and it has football lines sewn in. The turf has contributed to non-contact injuries to players, including FCE’s Carlyle Mitchell and Daryl Fordyce this season. Earlier this year, NASL commissioner Bill Peterson met with outgoing mayor Stephen Mandel to discuss the turf.

Oh, and it also looks brutal to the television audience.

But will it be changed? Will it be replaced with new turf that has erasable lines which can accommodate both football and soccer but not have the sports infringe on each other? That will be up to the new council.
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NWSL recap: Does Thorns win put Sinclair in position for ninth straight Canadian POY award?

Christine Sinclair

Christine Sinclair

A couple of weeks ago, there was a Twitter exchange amongst Canadian soccer followers, spurred by Canadian Soccer News columnist Duane Rollins, about Christine Sinclair’s prospects of winning the national women’s player of the year crown in 2013.

Sinclair, Canada’s all-time leading scorer, and the best player (male or female) this country has ever produced, has won the award 10 times, including the last eight years in a row. You could rename the women’s player of the year award “The Sincy” and no one in this country would complain.

But, coming out of her Portland Thorns’ 2-0 win in this past weekend’s NWSL championship, in which Sinclair scored the stoppage-time icing-on-the-cake goal, the question: Is it enough to keep her in the lead for the 2013 award? Sure, there’s still a lot of soccer to be played. Sinclair could score three or four vs. South Korea on a late October night and make this column moot.
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How we see the NWSL Final: Portland (Team Canada) vs. WNY Flash (Team USA)

Karina LeBlanc

Karina LeBlanc

Outside of the family members of Canadians Jodi-Ann Robinson and Bryanna McCarthy, its hard to imagine that too many people on this side of the border will be cheering for Western New York Flash to beat the Portland Thorns in Aug. 31′s NWSL final.

After all, the Flash is home to Abby Wambach, the player who reminded referee Christina Pedersen about the time-wasting rule in the 2012 Olympic semifinal between Canada and the United States. Pedersen’s ensuing call against Canadian keeper Erin McLeod shifted a game that Canada was winning 3-2 at the time — and helped the Americans get the game to extra time, where they won it. Wambach has further endeared herself to Canadian supporters with her criticism of the decision to play the 2015 Women’s World Cup on artificial turf, a move endorsed by FIFA and which was part of Canada’s bid package.

Wambach, whether she cares or not, is seen as about as anti-Canadian as a foreign sporting figure can be in this country. So, in our eyes, that makes her No. 1 seed Flash, which hosts the final thanks to a 2-0 semifinal win over Sky Blue FC, as the brash U-S-A! U-S-A! group.

Robinson and McCarthy are depth players for the Flash, so that Canadian cheer-for-our-own urge is lessened.

Meanwhile, even though Alex Morgan — who scored the U.S. winner in that Olympic semifinal — plays for Portland, it is clearly Canada’s team. Christine Sinclair didn’t score in the Thorns come-from-behind 3-2 extra-time semifinal win over FC Kansas City, but Canada’s all-time leading scorer netted eight times for Thorns this season.
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One-goal margin doesn’t hide the gulf between Germany and Canada

Leonie Maier

Leonie Maier

Seventeen days ago, the Canadian women’s team lost 3-0 at home to the United States; a scoreline that flattered the American visitors, who were held for three-quarters of the match and then exploded late.

On Wednesday, on the road in Paderborn against another elite national team, the Germans, the Canadians lost 1-0. But even though the scoreline was less severe, it was a more sobering reality check than the match against the U.S.

Canada struggled to find itself in a game that saw the Germans attack in waves. Even thought the Germans didn’t open the scoring till the 52nd minute, a low rocket of a shot from Leonie Maier, it was a game that saw the hosts show that they or of a different class than Canada. When Canadian coach John Herdman says that he is desperately looking for attackers, that he needs to find wing players, he’s not kidding.

Through the first half, it was a case of bend-but-don’t-break for the Canadian team. Canada escaped the first half 0-0 because of good goalkeeping, last-ditch tackles and, well, luck.
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Herdman on Canada’s women’s team: I am looking for strikers

John Herdman

John Herdman

Wanted: Strikers. Requirement: Canadian passport or lineage (we’ll help with the passport).

That’s the clear message coming from Canadian women’s national team coach John Herdman. In a conference call with media Thursday, he said the country’s striker shortage is a massive problem.

“If anyone in Canada has players up front, there’s definitely some shirts available,” Herdman said.

Going into the 2015 Women’s World Cup, which will open in exactly two years at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, Herdman said he has a team that, based on the core of his roster, will have an average age of 31. He said that statistics show that the World Cup champs usually have an average player age of 27 to 28. He needs to bring youth into the team, and he desperately needs to find secondary scoring behind Canada’s all-time leading goal-getter, Christine Sinclair.
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Herdman to begin reviewing the NWSL 16 in July; hopes for Canadian NWSL teams by 2015

NWSL-Logo-516x340The job reviews begin in July.

That’s when national women’s team coach John Herdman will begin to assess the 16 NWSL players whose contracts are being paid by the Canadian Soccer Association as per an agreement with the league. In a conference call Thursday, Herdman said he will soon start looking at what players will remain part of the program in 2014, and which ones will lose their funding. Those final decisions will come in October or November.

All of the 16 players are on one-year deals, so they can be easily replaced.

“It’s perfect for us,” said Herdman. “It’s quite healthy that we can have a revolving door.”

With some young Canadians getting set to graduate from NCAA programs, there will be competition for the 16 slots in 2014.

“I expect some changes will be made, that’s par for the course,” said Herdman.
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Herdman “really disappointed” with Canadian women’s loss to the U.S. on home soil

Canada's Desiree Scott, left, tries to challenge American Tobin Heath. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER/PAUL GIAMOU

Canada’s Desiree Scott, left, tries to challenge American Tobin Heath. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER/PAUL GIAMOU

The atmosphere was something special; a sold-out BMO Field was the stage for Canada and the United States’ rematch from the London Olympics.

Despite the record turnout the result was once again a losing one for Canada, as the U.S. took over in the second half and utilized its transition game to score three goals in the final 20 minutes to pick apart the Canadian defence, winning 3-0.

Canada managed to neutralize the Americans’ two stars — Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan — in the first half as the U.S. barely created any opportunities. Canada was not able to create much either but, eventually, the U.S. broke Canada down and that left coach John Herdman disappointed.

“The last 30 minutes of the game really caused us a few problems. The U.S. finally got Morgan released and that was the game plan — to keep Morgan and Wambach quiet,” said Herdman.

“We said that the U.S. will hurt us in transition. They score an average three goals against Canada a game throughout our history and did it again today, so I’m really disappointed to be honest.”
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Canadian women enjoy celebrity status ahead of Sunday’s BMO Field showdown with U.S.

Christine Sinclair at a fan rally in Toronto. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER

Christine Sinclair at a fan rally in Toronto. PHOTO: CANADA SOCCER

Ten months ago, the Canadian and the United States’ national teams played in what was arguably the most exciting match in women’s soccer history. In the Olympic soccer semifinal, the red and white, no matter how resilient, came up short in extra time.

Especially tough to overcome was the controversy of a referee’s decision that put the U.S. level with a few minutes remaining. The drama of a heart-wrenching but inspiring loss is still fresh today for the Canadians but also its fans. Canadians were so captivated as to what transpired in London last August that the women’s national team has suddenly found itself with a country filled of supporters and a full house on home turf. Over 20,000 fans are expected at BMO Field on Sunday afternoon as the two countries meet for the first time since the semi final.

There’s no doubt about it – this is new territory for the women’s program. All this attention has some of them feeling like celebrities and a little overwhelmed by all the attention.

“We get reminded about it every time we bump into people in airports. People won’t leave it alone – it’s unreal,” said national coach John Herdman after a spirited practice in front of a few hundred fans on Thursday night.
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Pedersen’s name not on list of 40 “potential candidates” for 2015 WWC ref assignments

The 40 candidates pose with FIFA president Sepp Blatter. PHOTO: FOTONET

The 40 candidates pose with FIFA president Sepp Blatter. PHOTO: FOTONET

On Wednesday, FIFA released the names of 40 referees who are “potential candidates” for inclusion in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Canadian referee Carol Anne Chenard’s name is on the list. Norwegian official Christina Pedersen’s name is not.

The 40 officials are in Zurich this week, attending medicals and a seminar that begin the planning stages for the Women’s World Cup, which opens in Edmonton and closes with the final game at Vancouver’s B.C. Place.

“This is an incredibly important seminar,” Sonia Denoncourt, Head of Women’s Referees at FIFA, was quoted in a release. “It is the first real step towards choosing candidates for the Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada. The event is two-and-a-half years away and we are starting off with a large group of female referees. We’ll be testing them and then selecting the best at the end.”
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