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The way Sinclair is still playing and scoring, it does not appear the 39-year-old will be retiring anytime soon, which is good news for Canada as everyone else seems to be having issues putting the ball in the back of the net
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One day when Christine Sinclair decides to finally hang up the boots on a magical career, the Canadian women’s national soccer team will need to find someone else to consistently score.
The way Sinclair is still playing and scoring, it does not appear the 39-year-old will, or should, be retiring anytime soon; which is good news for Canada as everyone else seems to be having issues putting the ball in the back of the net.
Canada’s opening game at the 2022 Concacaf W Championship against Trinidad and Tobago at the BBVA Stadium in Monterrey, Mexico, proved to be little more than shooting practice for the reigning Olympic champions. Unfortunately, it appears Canada will need a lot more practice, despite winning 6-0 with the help of three late second-half goals.
Substitute Julia Grosso scored two goals after coming on in the second half, while Sinclair, Jessie Fleming, Janine Beckie and Jordyn Huitema had the others.
In the end, the score seemed appropriate considering the quality of the two opponents, but it took Canada too long to get going and they squandered far too many opportunities through the first three quarters of the game.
All the early misses had Canada relying on a goal from Sinclair in the 27th minute to separate the teams.
An inability to score has been a constant narrative for Canada dating back to the Olympics. They have quality offensive players outside of Sinclair on the roster, but some seem to freeze in front of the net and somehow find ways to miss golden opportunities.
Beckie missed a sitter in the first half, put through alone by Deanne Rose and unable to lift the ball over goalkeeper Kimika Forbes, who has a strong game, but should have spent most of the contest picking the ball out of the back of the net had the Canadians laced its shoes on properly in the first half.
Quality strikers like Beckie, Rose, and attacking midfielder Fleming should not need three or four great chances to score a goal. Fleming missed a penalty in the 32nd minute, trying to be too precise from the spot against Forbes.
Fleming tried to pick the top corner and ended up hitting the cross bar. It was probably poetic justice, because it was a soft penalty awarded to Canada after Sinclair was slightly caught by Trinidad and Tobago defender Cecily Stoute in a challenge when the ball was already behind the most proficient international striker in the history of the game.
Referee Katia Garcia was summoned to look at the play on video assistant referee and decided there was enough contact to warrant a penalty, even though the ball was nowhere near Sinclair when contact was made.
Fleming, who scored a critical goal from the penalty spot against the United States to get Canada into the gold-medal match in Tokyo, surprisingly missed against Trinidad and Tobago.
Sinclair opened the scoring 15 minutes into the game, getting the start after overcoming an injury. She headed in a cross from Ashley Lawrence, completing a quality offensive move, which saw Canada work the ball from one side of the field to the other.
Shortly thereafter, Canada was awarded the penalty and Fleming’s miss began a cascade of close calls, which kept Trinidad and Tobago in a contest they otherwise had little business being in.
In the 35th minute, Beckie sent in a cross, which landed on the foot of Fleming and she hammered it over the bar. Rose then had a chance and her shot was tipped over the bar by Forbes.
Just before the halftime whistle, Beckie appeared to have scored a second, turning in a cross from Sinclair, but the goal was waved off for offside. Replayed showed Beckie clearly ahead of Sinclair and the last defender when she received the pass, and should have been able to time her run better to stay onside.
In the second half, the chances continued, as Rose was put through and had Beckie alone in front for an easy tap in, but instead decided to shoot from a poor angle and scuffed her shot wide.
With just over a half an hour left in the game, Canada head coach Bev Priestman had seen enough and made wholesale changes, bringing in Huitema, Adriana Leon, Grosso, Bianca St. Georges, and Allysha Chapman.
Grosso would go on to score inside of being on the field for 10 minutes. She took a layoff from Huitema and hammered a left-footed shot, cutting it back across the face of the net into the bottom corner past Forbes.
Grosso would add a second in the 79th minute as ball crossed through the box by Beckie ended up her foot at the left of the penalty area. Grosso faked a shot with her left and cut back to her weaker right foot, but was still able to muscle a shot inside the near post past Forbes to make it 3-0.
Fleming then scored to make it 4-0, Beckie added a fifth and Huitema made it 6-0, all in the final 10 minutes against an exhausted Trinidad and Tobago team.
Canada continues the tournament against Panama on Friday and concludes the round robin Monday against Costa Rica. The top two teams in the group move on to the semifinal.
The regional championship tournament is doubling as qualifiers for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and 2024 Olympics in Paris.
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On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest