Sinclair highlights Canada's Olympic qualifying roster

January 21

Christine Sinclair, on the verge of tying the all-time international goals record, headlines Canada's roster for the CONCACAF Olympic soccer qualifying tournament.

Canadian coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller announced the 20-player squad for the tournament Tuesday. Canada opens qualifying on Jan. 29 against Saint Kitts and Nevis in Edinburg, Texas.

Sinclair, the team's longtime captain who also plays for the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League, has 183 career goals, one shy of retired U.S. star Abby Wambach's international record among men and women. Sinclair has scored 11 goals in 15 Olympic appearances.

The roster includes 16 players who were on the team that won the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics. Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, and Desiree Scott also were part of the team that won the bronze in London in 2012.

Heiner-Moller's qualifying roster includes midfielder Jessie Fleming, who helped lead UCLA to the NCAA College Cup semifinals and was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, and goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, who plays for the reigning NWSL champion North Carolina Courage and had eight shutouts for Canada last year, a team record.

Left off the roster was veteran Diana Matheson, who is still recovering from a toe injury that also kept her out of last summer's World Cup in France. Goalkeeper Erin McLeod was also omitted because of lingering injury.

Heiner-Moller was asked on a conference call with reporters what he sees as his team's biggest challenge heading into qualifying.

“Well, I think it's consistency, which is such a boring word for it, right? But it is. No matter who we play, we need to play to Canadian standard," the coach said. ”It has to be our level of performance that we play to.”

In addition to Saint Kitts and Nevis, Canada's group for qualifying includes Jamaica and Mexico. If the team gets out of its group, it will play in the semifinals in Carson, California, on Feb. 7. The opposite group, which includes the United States, Costa Rica, Haiti and Panama, is playing its matches in Houston.

The top two finishers in the tournament qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo this summer



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