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Canada captain Christine Sinclair signs contract extension with NWSL Portland Thorns

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Canada captain Christine Sinclair has signed a contract extension with the Portland Thorns through 2022, with an option for the 2023 NWSL season.

The 38-year-old forward from Burnaby, B.C., who led Canada to Olympic gold in Tokyo last summer, said last week she has committed to playing the next two seasons with Portland and Canada leading up to the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

"I feel healthy, feel good,'' Sinclair said at the time. "And especially with the turnaround from the (Tokyo) Olympics to the (2023) World Cup — there's qualifications this summer — I told (Canada coach) Bev (Priestman) that obviously I'll take it year by year, but to count me in."

The new Thorns deal paves the way for that plan with the NWSL team eager to retain the world's all-time leading international goal-scorer with 188 goals in 308 Canadian appearances.

"We are excited to re-sign Christine so that she can continue her career as a Thorn. She’s always been a Thorn, and she’s made it clear that she always wants to be a Thorn,” Portland GM Karina LeBlanc, a former teammate of Sinclair's with the Thorns and Canada, said in a statement Thursday.

“What she has done for this team as a leader, for this organization and this community has been massive. She is a great human and the epitome of what a Thorns player should be.”

FIFA honoured Sinclair with The Best FIFA Special Award during its Best FIFA Football Awards gala in Zurich on Jan. 17.

This year marks Sinclair's 10th in Portland, where she also starred for the University of Portland Pilots.

Sinclair has helped the Thorns win two NWSL championships (2013, 2017), two NWSL Shields (2016, 2021), the NWSL Fall Series (2020), NWSL Challenge Cup (2021) and Women’s International Champions Cup (2021). 

Sinclair is the club’s career leader in games played (143), games started (140), minutes played (12,404) and goals (54).

“Sinclair is a player who has proudly represented the Thorns organization since Day 1 of the NWSL,” said Thorns head coach Rhian Wilkinson, who also played alongside Sinclair with Portland and Canada. “Her ability to maintain the very top professional standard for as long as she has, her understanding of the game, her finishing ability, and her leadership make her a player we could not be prouder to have represent us.”

Sinclair appeared in 15 matches for Portland during the 2021 regular season, recording five goals and one assist, marking the seventh time in eight seasons she has recorded at least five goals in a campaign. She is the only Thorns player to start and play in every playoff game in club history.

NWSL teams are slated to open training camp next Tuesday before kicking off the league's 10th anniversary season on March 19, with group play for the NWSL Challenge Cup.

Sixth-ranked Canada, meanwhile, is joining No. 3 Germany, No. 8 England and No. 9 Spain at the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup in England's Middlesbrough, Norwich and Wolverhampton next month.

At club level, Sinclair played for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the W-League and FC Gold Pride and Western New York Flash in the WPS before joining Portland in January 2013.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2022.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press