June 26, 2011
It was just the latest spectacular moment in a career full of them for Canadian women's soccer team captain Christine Sinclair, but it's one that will be remembered around the world. The second-ranked German side (who had won the last two Women's World Cups in 2003 and 2007) dominated the sixth-ranked Canadian women for most of Sunday's FIFA Women's World Cup match, but the crowd of over 70,000 at Berlin's Olympic Stadium had their hearts jump into their mouths when Sinclair scored a spectacular goal off a free kick (pictured above) to pull Canada within one in the 82nd minute. Here's Sinclair's goal in all its glory:
Sinclair's brilliantly-bent free kick inspired the Canadians to greater heights, and they almost came away with a draw after a brilliant Robyn Gayle cross off an unusual short corner found Emily Zurrer alone in the box, but Zurrer fired just high. The Germans would hang on for a 2-1 victory, but Sinclair's goal was notable enough in and of itself; it marked the first goal Die Frauenmannschaft had conceded in the Women's World Cup since 2003. The German side and keeper Nadine Angerer didn't allow a single goal in 540 minutes of play in the 2007 tournament, so Sinclair's strike marked the snapping of a 622-minute shutout streak in Women's World Cup play for both Angerer and the German team. Considering how dominant Germany has been in the women's game (for reference, the Germans thumped Canada 5-0 in an exhibition match just 10 months ago), that's an incredible landmark.
For Sinclair, snapping that shutout streak is far from her only career highlight, though. The 28-year old striker from Burnaby, B.C. has been a key part of the Canadian senior side since making her debut for them at 17, and she's been named Canada's female player of the year every one of the last six years. She was one of 10 female finalists for the 2010 Ballon D'Or, awarded to the top female player in the world, and Sunday's goal marked her 117th international goal (in 160 appearances for the senior team). She could have notched another one early in the match, and she bravely persevered through injury early in the second half, breaking her nose but insisting she stay in the game and urging medical staff to clean the blood off her as quickly as possible so she could get back on the pitch. A Canadian fighting through a broken nose to score a beautiful, crucial goal? That sounds like something a certain hockey commentator might endorse...
Sinclair's goal may suggest that the Germans are vulnerable, but maybe it also suggests that this Canadian side can't be counted out. It also helps keep their goal differential down, which may prove crucial in case of tiebreak. The Canadians are back in action Thursday at noon Eastern against seventh-ranked France, and you know their captain will be there to lead them on. We'll see if she has any further highlights in store for us.