Striker Christine Sinclair made a one-game return to the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday and scored two goals in a 3-1 W-League soccer victory over the visiting Seattle Sounders.
Burnaby-born Sinclair scored in the 25th and 87th minutes. Referee Marco Arruda gave her a controversial yellow card for diving in the 84th minute after Sounders' defender Kelli Smith hauled her down in the Seattle penalty area. "The girl after the game said I totally took you down, he just wouldn't call it," Sinclair said.
Sinclair penetrated the Seattle defense in the 87th minute and capitalized on a through-ball from Sanna Talonen, a Finnish import. Talonen scored the injury time insurance marker.
The Whitecaps are 21-5-3 all-time against the Sounders. Sinclair's last game with Vancouver was the 2006 W-League championship victory over Seattle at Swangard Stadium. She now has 23 goals in 21 Vancouver matches. She spent 2007 with Canada's Women's World Cup team and is on a break from training with the Beijing-bound Olympic team.
"I had so much energy out there, playing back at Swangard in front of my family, playing for the Whitecaps again," Sinclair said. "So many people could've scored today, hitting crossbars and posts, luckily two of them went in."
The 3-0-2 Whitecaps play three California road games in five days beginning Wednesday against the Los Angeles Legends. The next home game is June 22 against the Pali Blues of Pacific Palisades, Calif. "It's going to be a different group that goes away," said head coach Bob Birarda. "It's going to be a real challenge for the next four games for us to get results."
Andrea Neil, who scored 24 goals in 69 Vancouver games, was honoured after the game when the Whitecaps retired her number five jersey. The 16-year national team veteran retired after the Women's World Cup last fall. Her 131 caps are the most of any Canadian player, male or female.
On her legacy
"If we could all just respect the game, respect each other, respect yourself through the game. The game teaches us so much that we, out of it, become better people. I don't necessarily think it's about my legacy. It's about how much we can give and get back from this game," Neil said.