Canada opens Olympic women's qualifying
on Wednesday when it faces St. Kitts & Nevis in the opening game of a doubleheader in Edinburg, Texas.
It's a game Canada, Olympic bronze-medalist in 2012 and 2016, should win easily. St. Kitts & Nevis, coached by American Jené Baclawski, is the smallest independent state in the Western Hemisphere and has never advanced as far in Concacaf play.
It will be Christine Sinclair's first chance to tie (or break) Abby Wambach's world record (men or women) of 184 international goals.
Sinclair debuted for Canada almost 20 years ago -- a 4-0 loss to China at the 2000 Algarve Cup -- and scored the first of her 183 goals in a 2-1 loss to Norway two days later.
She's gone on to win NCAA Division I titles with the University of Portland in 2002 and 2005 and pro titles in WPS with FC Gold Pride (2010) and the Western New York Flash (2011) and the NWSL with the Portland Thorns (2013 and 2017).
She was named the Canadian Player of the Year 14 times -- 11 years in a row (2004-14) -- and won Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016.
A little known fact: Wambach and Sinclair were both on 99 goals when Wambach scored her 100th goal in the USA's 1-0 win over Canada in July 2009 in Rochester, New York, Wambach's hometown.
Wambach retired at the end of 2015 with 184 goals in 255 games. Sinclair was 26 goals behind. Over the last four years, she has scored 25 goals to give her 183 in 289 games.
Sinclair has had a low profile throughout most of her career and rarely talked about the impending record. Asked about it, she tried to deflect attention when interviewed by the Canadian Press.
"It would be pretty cool to see a Canadian on the top of that [list]," she said.
All 20 players on the Canadian team in Edinburg were part of the team that reached the round of 16 at the 2019 World Cup, so it will be favored to win its group with Mexico, Jamaica and St. Kitts & Nevis and face the second-place team in the other group headed by the USA that will play in Houston.
The two Olympic berths will be decided when the two group winners face the runners-up of the other groups Feb. 7 in Carson, Calif.