Women’s Soccer

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

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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.

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Aluko to leave Juventus after 18 months and 3 trophies

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TURIN, Italy — English forward Eniola Aluko has announced she is leaving Juventus after 18 months at the Italian soccer club.

Aluko helped Juventus win the Italian league and cup double last season and the Italian Super Cup last month.

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She says: “After winning the Supercoppa recently, I felt a sense of great completion with my time at Juventus, after also winning the Coppa Italia and Scudetto.”

Aluko scored 15 goals in Serie A. Her last match will be against Juve’s main rival, Fiorentina, on Nov. 30.

The 32-year-old adds on Twitter: “I will leave Italy with good memories and special achievements for new opportunities, ambitions and further happiness back in the UK.”

Aluko most recently played for Chelsea in England.

Report: Real Madrid wants to sign USWNT star Rapinoe as ‘Galactica’

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Megan Rapinoe is looking at a return to Europe, and her preferred club’s rivals lurk with interest.

The FIFA’s Best award winner for 2019 has expressed her love for Barcelona, with AS in Spain reporting that her love for the Blaugranas won’t stop Real Madrid from courting the Seattle Reign star and USMNT living legend.

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Real is taking over the Deportivo Tacon team and rebranding it as the first Real Madrid’s women’s team in 2020, and president Florentino Perez loves a splashy signing. The term ‘Galactica‘ is being thrown around in a nod to Real’s habit of signing massive money signings on the men’s side.

Rapinoe has played for Sydney FC in Australia and Lyon in France, winning a French title and finishing as runner-up in the 2012-13 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Imagine the offer that could be headed Rapinoe’s way from Perez.

The 158-times capped Rapinoe is a two-time World Cup champion, has a pair of NWSL Shields, and has won Olympic gold. The idea of spearheading a first-year Real team would have to be interesting, but Barca is far closer to a UWCL title.

In fact, Barca is already in the Round of 16 and faces Belarusian side Minsk. The Blaugranes have world superstars Lieke Martens, Caroline Hansen, and Vicky Losada in the fold. A pretty attractive proposition, to be sure.

Boca routs River in 1st superclasico of Argentina women’s soccer

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Boca Juniors routed archrival River Plate 5-0 on Tuesday in the first “superclasico” of Argentina’s new professional women’s soccer league.

Veteran Fanny Rodriguez scored a hat trick for the host at the Bombonera stadium in front of about 2,000 fans. Captain Florencia Quinones and Fabiana Vallejos also netted a goal each.

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Argentina’s new women’s league started this past weekend, after the country’s soccer federation announced its formation in March.

Women’s soccer is on the rise in Argentina, with the national team qualifying for the latest World Cup in France for the first time in more than a decade. The South American nation is bidding to host the women’s World Cup in 2023.

However, the salaries in the professional women’s league are equivalent to those for men in the country’s fourth division.

Olympic champion Semenya signs for South African club

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Like Usain Bolt before her, Olympic champion Caster Semenya is trading her track cleats for soccer boots.

At least for now.

Unable to compete in track if she refuses to take testosterone-altering drugs, the two-time 800m gold medalist has signed for a South Africa women’s soccer team.

[ MORE: USMNT strengths and weaknesses ]

Semenya joined JVW FC, a six-year old club founded by South African women’s national team captain Janine van Wyk (Surely no ego was spared in the naming of the club!).

Here’s the explanation from Olympic Talk’s Nick Zaccardi.

Semenya made this move after a Swiss court ruled in late July that she can’t in her best events while she appeals a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision that upheld the IAAF’s new rule that bars her. Semenya took that ruling to mean that she won’t be able to defend her world title in Doha in three weeks.

Can she finish? That’s the big question (and we’re also assuming that, like Bolt, she’ll be used in attack).

Here’s what Van Wyk said about adding Semenya to the club (Van Wyk, it should be noted, does not play for the club that bears her initials):

“I am extremely elated to have such an iconic athlete join my football club. I am absolutely honored that out of all the other women’s clubs around the world, she has chosen JVW as the club where she would like to start showcasing her football skills. I welcomed her at her first training with the team on Tuesday, and was impressed to see that she definitely has all the fundamentals. I look forward to her working with Coach Ciara and our First Team where I am sure she will sharpen up and get ready to play in 2020. Although I won’t be here for the rest of the year, as I have just signed with Fortuna Hjorring, I have no doubt that Caster will fit right in, and enjoy her time at the club.”