Sinclair’s all-time goals record a unique moment for the game

Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images

Soccer has a new all-time leading international scorer, and it’s difficult to imagine a better vintage flag bearer for the sport than Christine Sinclair.

The 36-year-old scored her 185th goal for Canada on Thursday, passing USWNT legend Abby Wambach.

Where Sinclair’s on-field game shows the same fire and drive as the woman who’s record she broke, she carries herself in a way alien to Wambach.

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And it’s alien to the brash manner that’s earned the USWNT its admirers and detractors over the year. It’s difficult to remember a time when Sinclair gave herself the stage, or commanded the spotlight.

That’s not a shot at the U.S., of course, but it’s pretty incredible that the No. 1 scorer and striker in the women’s game, a position which has collected the wildest and most attention-craving personalities on earth.

A story, some of which you know.

In 2011, Sinclair was drafted by the Western New York Flash as part of one of the most insane collections of talent imaginable. The Canadian striker was joined in attack by Marta, rookie Alex Morgan, and English international Gemma Davidson.

The team included Swedish hero Caroline Seger, USWNT players-in-waiting McCall Zerboni, Ashlyn Harris, and Whitney Engen, and New Zealand rocket Ali Riley.

It was stacked. She never quite got the headlines of Marta or Morgan, but her 10 goals and eight assists led the team to a WPS title.

I was the play-by-play voice of the team in WNY, and the player who controlled the flow of the game was Sinclair. Let me clear: The team was a solid collection of personalities, and honestly there were very few moments anyone seemed to be bigger than the rest.

But Sinclair carried herself like the everywoman of the crew. It was never about her, but the person next to her. She wasn’t league MVP, though she was unanimous Best XI, but she was an absolute force.

And in an era dominated by loud, electrifying U.S. women’s national teams, the top scorer is a Canadian who rather quietly ascended the throne in front of a sea of seats.

Especially considering the growth of the women’s game, there’s a very good chance none of us will live to see anyone touch her record.

There’s something pretty great about that.

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