Christine Sinclair is no longer “the broken soccer player,” she described herself as following the embarrassment that was Canada’s performance in the 2011 women’s World Cup.
But this had to have been an emotional 72 hours, what with a possible FIFA sanction hanging over her head and a last-minute bronze medal on a hot, sunny, soul-sapping day. And so when the discussion turned to Canada’s resilient and resolute goalkeeper, Erin McLeod, Sinclair’s voice caught a couple of times.
The French attempted 25 shots to Canada’s four. Four of the shots were listed as official saves, but that doesn’t include McLeod’s brave work on the crosses that were a staple of the lightning-quick French attack. She was steadfast and a lifeline for a team that had spent more than 120 minutes running around in a 4-3 extra-time loss to the U.S. in the semi-final game. McLeod, a 29-year-old native of St. Albert, Alta., has been a featured performer in the program since playing with the 2002 Under-19 team, and had a costly miscue on a cross in an opening game loss to Japan as well as being called for violating the six-second rule in the semi-final, a call that led to a tying goal.
McLeod did not start the second match against South Africa, but head coach John Herdman went back to her for a must-win match against Sweden, and when Herdman was asked following Thursday’s win about McLeod’s redemption, he demurred with a smile, looked at Sinclair and said in a whisper: “Go on, Christine …”
“It’s interesting,” Sinclair said, taking a deep breath, “because Erin, I think, always gets looked over in the discussion about world’s best goalkeeper. I don’t understand why. Today she proved that if she’s not the best, she should be in the discussion. She kept our team in it. She’s the most amazing teammate. She saved our butts so many times today, it’s just incredible.”