Christine Sinclair and her Rise to Portland Thorns FC

Christine Sinclair
Portland, Oregon — Aug. 25: Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair celebrate her goal during the Portland Thorns 3-0 victory over the Chicago Red Stars at Providence Park on August 25, 2019, in Portland, OR (Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Editorial — Christine Sinclair was born in Burnaby, British Columbia. She comes from a family with soccer roots. Her father and two uncles were all Canadian amateur soccer champions. Sinclair’s two uncles also played professionally. Meanwhile, her father Bill Sinclair played for the University of British Columbia and the New Westminster Blues in the Pacific Coast Soccer League.

The Story of Christine Sinclair

Christine Sinclair started with the U14 girls club where she won many championships. This continued in Burnaby South Secondary School, where she led the team to three league championships. After high school, she started her college career with the University of Portland Pilots.

University of Portland Pilots (2001-05)

Sinclair was able to make an impact on a famous soccer program. Sinclair had 23 goals and eight assists in her rookie season. She led all NCAA Division 1 first-year students in scoring according to socceramerica.com. She was also named as part of a consensus All-America selection according to portlandpilots.com.

According to Timbers.com, Sinclair had a close relationship with then-head coach Clive Charles.

“The No.  1 reason was Clive,” Sinclair, who holds the Pilots’ career records in points (252) and goals (110) and is a two-time Hermann Trophy winner, said. “Being recruited by many schools, he was the only coach that seemed to care about you as a person first and an athlete, second or third.”

In 2002, Sinclair won the NCAA National Championship. She registered 26 goals and three assists in the entire season.

In 2004, she had 22 goals and 11 assists for the Pilots. According to Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy, Sinclair was named the West Coast Conference (WCC) Player of the Year and received All-American honors.

In 2005, she was named the WCC Player of the Year for the second year in a row. She was only the second collegiate player at the time to win it three times, according to the University of Portland Pilots. Her remarkable season did not end there, though. She set an all-time Division I scoring record with 39 goals (and 10 assists) and a career total of 25 goals in NCAA tournament play. She also won her second NCAA National Championship.

Sinclair won the Honda Sports Award as the nation’s top scorer as well as the Honda-Broderick Cup. Sinclair was the third player to win the award, according to ColoradoRapids.com. She had 110 goals and 32 assists in 94 appearances in college, according to canadasoccer.com.

Vancouver Breakers (2001-02) and Whitecaps FC (2006-08)

From 2001-02, Sinclair was playing at both the University of Portland and the Vancouver Breakers. Sinclair scored nine goals in 10 appearances for the Breakers in the USL W-League. However, they finished as runner-up to the Boston Renegades, who defeated them 5-1 in the 2001 final.

Sinclair returned to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC (formerly known as the Breakers) in 2006. She would score 10 goals in 21 appearances. She would win a USL W-League championship defeating the Ottawa Fury Women, 3-0. Christine Sinclair was the top goal scorer for Vancouver in 2002 and in 2006.

FC Gold Pride (2009-10)

Sinclair was drafted eighth overall in the 2008 WPS International Draft by FC Gold Pride in the first-tier Women’s Professional Soccer. She led the team with six goals, but her team still finished last in the 2009 WPS season. However, the 2010 season was different, as FC Gold Pride signed Marta, Camille Abily and Shannon Boxx. FC Gold Pride ended up becoming regular-season champions.

Sinclair was given WPS Player of the Week for Week 14 after scoring two goals against the Philadelphia Independence. She also scored two goals for FC Gold Pride to defeat Independence in the Championship Final. FC Gold Pride won that game, 4-0. However, shortly after, the team had financial difficulties and was forced to fold.

Western New York Flash (2011)

Christine Sinclair’s next team was the Western New York Flash. According to Jacqueline Purdy, Sinclair was overshadowed by a few players and was a runner-up for a few awards. One of them she lost was the Michelle Akers Player of the Year trophy to Philadelphia’s Veronica Boquete. Furthermore, Sinclair’s assist on Marta’s 10th goal in the final regular-season game cost Sinclair the scoring title. However, her contribution was not forgotten by her Flash head coach.

“I can’t praise Christine Sinclair enough… She’s just a world-class soccer player. What she has given us this year — she’s given us everything,” former Flash coach Aaron Lines said.

Sinclair was given the MVP trophy of the final when the Flash won the WPS championship. Unfortunately, like the previous team mentioned, the Flash ended up folding when in the NWSL. The only top-tier professional team she played with that is still in operation is the Portland Thorns FC.

Portland Thorns FC (2013-Present)

Sinclair returned to Portland, this time as a professional soccer player, in 2013. This was also the first season of the new first-tier National Women’s Soccer League. The WPS, which was the previous first-tier pro women’s soccer league, folded in 2012.

She is in many of the all-time best in the NWSL (the NWSL and Thorns records do not keep into account the games played in 2020) for many statistics. For example, she has the third most goals, tied fifth for most playoff goals and 10th in most appearances all-time in the NWSL. Sinclair has also created a legacy of herself with Thorns FC, winning two championships.

Furthermore, she led scoring three times with the Thorns. In 2013, she tied with Alex Morgan for most goals for the Thorns with eight. In 2017, Sinclair led with eight goals and in the 2019 season she led the Thorns with nine goals. She is the all-time leader in goals for the Thorns. She is also tied for fourth all-time in assists with Meleana Shim. It’s fair to say that Sinclair created a legacy for herself not just with the NWSL but also with the Portland Thorns.

She and the Portland Thorns defeated her former team, the Western New York Flash, 2-0 to win the inaugural NWSL championship in 2013. Christine Sinclair scored one of the two goals, along with Tobin Heath.

Other team accolades Sinclair accomplished with the Portland Thorns FC was winning the NWSL Shield (2016) and a second NWSL title (2017).

Overview of Christine Sinclair’s Rise to Portland Thorns FC

Looking at her club and college career, it is no surprise that Sinclair has gotten this far. She has always been an elite player winning championships at many levels of the game. This includes winning with her college team, the Vancouver Whitecaps and the three top-tier professional women’s soccer teams she has played on.

It is unfortunate, though, that the Western New York Flash and FC Gold Pride no longer exist. However, this doesn’t take away what Sinclair had accomplished with the Flash and Gold Pride. It also doesn’t take away how those teams shaped Sinclair as a player with the Portland Thorns.

 

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