Christine Sinclair, Thorns vs. South Korea, 3.5.18

Christine Sinclair’s pursuit of women’s soccer’s all-time goal-scoring record took another step forward on Monday, with the Thorns FC captain scoring twice as Canada downed South Korea, 3-0, in the Algarve Cup.

UCLA midfielder Jessie Fleming also scored for the Canadians, who notched their second-straight victory after opening to tournament with a loss to Sweden. The results leave Canada second in Group B, relegating the team to either the third- or fifth-place match on Wednesday.

Sinclair opened Monday’s scoring with the 25th minute, putting home a rebound of her saved penalty shot after fullback Alyssa Chapman was taken down in the box. Although South Korea’s Yoon Young-Guel made a diving save on Sinclair’s initial try, the goalkeeper’s block sent the ball away from her right post and back toward the middle of goal. From close range, Sinclair finished into an empty net for her 171st international goal.

A quick look at @sincy12 international goal #171

— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) March 5, 2018

Fleming’s fifth international goal, lifted home from 18 yards out, gave Canada a two-goal lead in the 73rd minute. Six minutes later, a scramble in front of Yoon’s goal allowed Sinclair to clean up a rebound at the edge of the six-yard box, notching goal number 172 of her international career. Up three goals, Canada soon took both their goal scorers off, condemning the Koreans to their 3-0 loss.

Quick looking at @sincy12 int’l goal # 172 - now just 12 back from @AbbyWambach and the world record

— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) March 5, 2018

With her brace, Sinclair is 12 goals back of Abby Wambach’s all-time international mark. The U.S. legend retired in 2015 with 184 international goals, having claimed the record from Mia Hamm on June 20, 2013.

Thanks to Sweden’s 3-0 win Monday over Russia, first place in Group B was out of reach for Canada, sending Kenneth Heiner-Møller’s team to one of Wednesday’s consolation games. Unless Japan (Group C) beats Denmark by at least five goals and both Australia (vs. China) and Portugal (vs. Norway) win their final Group A games, Canada will go into the third-place match, where Australia, Denmark, Japan and Portugal are possible opponents.

Horan in starting XI again for USWNT versus France

U.S. head coach Jill Ellis chose a largely unchanged starting lineup for Sunday’s SheBelieves Cup match against France, returning nine from the first XI she’d picked two days earlier against Germany. Of those nine, though, only five went the full 90 against the world’s No. 2, and only one plays higher than defense.

That one was Thorns FC midfielder Lindsey Horan, who, in hindsight, seemed destined for a short day against France. With the game tied at intermission at Red Bull Arena, Horan was one of two players who gave way, exiting the game after 45 minutes of the U.S.’ 1-1 draw.

Horan’s fellow Colorado native Mallory Pugh put the U.S. ahead in the 35th minute after converting from close range after a scramble near goal.

Don't leave her open in front of the 🥅!@MalPugh scores her 3rd goal of the year, and now leads the #USWNT in 2018.

— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) March 4, 2018

Three minutes later, France played Eugenie Le Sommer through the gap between North Carolina defenders Taylor Smith (right back) and Abby Dahlkemper, allowing the Lyon star to equalize from a tight angle.

Smith was soon removed from the game, but her replacement, Casey Short, was not able to make it to full-time after picking up an ankle injury in the second half. If Short is unable to play in Wednesday’s She Believes finale, Thorns center back Emily Sonnett could get a start.

Right back is not a natural position for Sonnett, but this January, she was brought in for Smith during the U.S.’ friendly against Denmark. Though Smith might return to the starting lineup – and players like Crystal Dunn and Sofia Huerta are also options at the position – Sonnett could get a full run-out, especially since she was a well-rested, unused substitute against France.

Elsewhere at Algarve

Ellie Carpenter, the other Thorns FC player active during this international break, started for Australia on Saturday, going 90 minutes at fullback in the Matildas’ surprise 0-0 draw with hosts Portugal. The defeat snapped Australia’s eight-match winning streak and marked the first time the team had been shutout since March 1, 2017. Although Alen Stajic picked a heavily-rotated team, the draw was still disappointing for a team that has been inspiring lofty results.

For the second-straight match, Thorns attacker Hayley Raso was not in Stajic’s gameday squad. Nursing injuries carried over from her W-League season, Raso was scheduled to be sent back to Australia before the close of their Algarve Cup.