Throughout her legendary 19-year-career, Christine Sinclair has never seen a team filled with this much potential.
“I can honestly say I’ve been waiting my entire career for a team like this,” said Sinclair to reporters, after Canada’s 3-0 friendly win over Mexico, Saturday at BMO Field in Toronto.
“We’re so talented — we have the depth to compete at World Cup’s and Olympics — we’re so much more talented than we have ever been. You combine that with what makes us Canadian — our hard work and grit, it excites me.”
Sinclair tallied international goal No. 181 Saturday, to move her four away from breaking American Abby Wambach’s record of 184 and becoming the greatest goal scorer in the history of international women’s soccer.
Saturday’s goal came on a great pass from Janine Beckie, who saw Canada’s captain charge in through the Mexican defence and put it past goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago in the 53rd minute.
Chemistry between the Burnaby, B.C. native and Beckie was on full display for the crowd of 19,610 in attendance.
After the match, the 35-year old praised her teammate’s remarkable abilities.
“I just think Janine is a world class footballer,” said Sinclair. “She’s easy to read, and it’s a relationship her and I have been building for four years.
“It just keeps getting better and today you saw it click. When she’s not scoring goals — she usually has a hand in them.”
Beckie, who claimed her 55th appearance for the senior national team, couldn’t contain her excitement to hear such acclaim from the 2018 Canadian player of the year.
“That means the world to me, for her [Sinclair] to say that about me it’s really incredible,” said Beckie. “She always gives credit to everybody else and I’m happy to always set her up.
“She doesn’t miss often, she’s a great teammate and leader – we’re excited to be behind her in this chase for that record.
“Her goal is to win the World Cup, that record is in the back of her mind as a bonus but when that moment happens we’ll be so excited.”
Canada’s head coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller has also taken notice of Beckie’s prowess, and believes it can be attributed to her new club, Manchester City, where the 24 year-old signed in August of 2018.
“She’s matured the last few years in her game,” said Heiner-Moller, who was appointed Canada’s head coach in January 2018 after John Herdman moved over to manage the men’s national side.
“She’s in a high performance environment every single day and she’s not even in the starting eleven [at City] but she’s surrounded by world class players.
“Having that environment around her has definitely pushed her—then the relationship with Sinclair and Jessie [Fleming] because now she’s playing numerous matches with them and she’s improving.
“Janine knows exactly where they need the ball and what they don’t need. Her decision making is through the roof—especially in today’s match, that’s always been within her.”
Texas Tech University’s all-time leading scorer also credits the transition to English football for bringing out her playmaking artistry.
“Around the box — quick passes and movements is something I’ve worked on since I moved to City,” said Beckie. “It’s been in my game for a long time, but when it’s trained it just comes more naturally”
For Beckie and Canada, Saturday’s game was set as a send-off before the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, that begins June 7.
Canada will open the tournament June 10 against Cameroon before closing out the group stage with New Zealand (June 15) and the Netherlands (June 20).
Although Sinclair can feel confident going into her fifth appearance on soccer’s biggest stage, with a crop of talented youngsters led by Beckie, coach Heiner-Moller wants to measure expectations for those making their World Cup debuts, until the tournament kicks-off in France.
“It’s a whole different thing being at a World Cup and that’s what’s going to be interesting, seeing how they [young players] react.”