Canada won the game but lost its star player.
Fortunately for the Canadian women’s national soccer team, the foot injury sustained by captain Christine Sinclair does not look as bad as it first appeared.
A 3-0 win against Wales on Friday was overshadowed by an injury to Sinclair who hobbled off the field 30 minutes into the contest in her first game back for Canada in over a year.
Sinclair injured her left foot, tracking back to make a tackle against Welsh midfielder Ceri Holland.
Both players were hurt on the play, but Holland was able to continue, while Sinclair had to be attended to in obvious distress after her left leg was caught underneath her in the sliding tackle.
Canada continues its pre-Olympic schedule against England on Tuesday.
“It seems pretty positive with Christine, the first thing is that she can weight-bear on her foot, so that’s a really good sign,” said Canada head coach Bev Priestman. “Fingers crossed, we’ll assess (Saturday) in terms of England, but I’m not majorly concerned at this stage, she’s not off to get an X-ray or anything like that. Fingers crossed that she’ll be flying for England.”
Sinclair, the most prolific international goal scorer of all time, eventually was able to limp off the field on her own. She was substituted and replaced by Evelyne Viens, who went on to score Canada’s second goal.
“Obviously, it’s great to be back on the field and it’s great to have Sync back, but I think it was an opportunity for someone to step up,” said Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe. “I’m positive she’s going to be all right, but it was a great moment for Evelyne, she got her first goal for Canada and I think that was an amazing moment for her to come in and have that confidence and get a great performance out of her.
“You never want to see any teammate go down, especially Sync, but I’m confident she’ll be back.”
Canada opened the scoring in the 25th minute as midfielder Quinn played a fantastic 50-yard ball over the top onto the path of Deanne Rose, who hammered a shot past Wales goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan.
Quinn had a strong game pulling the strings in midfield for Canada.
Viens, 24, scored her first international goal 12 minutes into the second half, turning in a bouncing cross from Janine Beckie, who came on as a substitute.
Jesse Fleming then added a third in the 63rd minute, bending a right-footed shot into the top corner of the net past O’Sullivan.
“I think that’s exactly what we needed and they were good goals and that’s the important thing,” Priestman said. “We had done some work over the last three to five days in that area and I think it showed that.
“I knew it would always come, we were in (scoring) positions and we’ve been getting into positions and they put the ball in the back of the net, which is what I asked them to do. Then we went out and got a clean sheet (shutout). I said that we needed to be ruthless in both boxes and we did that, we kept that clean sheet and we got the three goals.”
Scoring had been an issue for Canada dating back to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Outside of lopsided wins against Saint Kitts and Nevis and Jamaica at Olympic qualifying, Canada not scored three goals in a game since defeating Mexico in a World Cup sendoff match in Toronto almost two years ago.
Canada scored one goal in three games at the SheBelieves Cup in February in losses to the United States and Brazil, and a victory against Argentina.
“The win definitely is huge, but at the same time, getting three goals and feeling the confidence behind that is big too,” Labbe said. “After SheBelieves the thing we really walked away with – of course not scoring goals – we were creating chances and putting the ball in the box and we were creating those chances.
“Today, we were putting them away, but at the same time, we were scoring goals that we normally don’t score from Canada. Jesse Fleming’s touch and strike from the top of the box, we haven’t seen a goal like that from Canada in a while, so the confidence for her to do that and Deanne Rose at the beginning of the game, to have the confidence to shoot that ball and not slide it across goal, I think that’s a big confidence boost for all our players.”
Priestman used 17 players in the win, making six substitutions in the exhibition contest. The new Canadian coach has been only at the helm for four games and needs to select a 20-player roster, which includes two goalkeepers, for the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.
The game against England on Tuesday is the last on the schedule for Canada before the Olympic tournament in Japan.
“What I’ve tried to bring is this ultimate competitive environment where we’re all pushing each other because ultimately that’s going to make the team better,” Priestman said. “I think it’s going to go right to the wire in terms of getting that 18 (outfield players) together, and the players are certainly putting their best foot forward to do that.”
On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest