Mexico wins, Canada’s Sinclair scores historic goal

Mexico's Renae Cuellar (9) celebrates her goal with teammate Rebeca Bernal (6) against Jamaica during a Concacaf women's Olympic qualifying match at H-E-B Park on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

BY RAUL GARCIA

STAFF WRITER

EDINBURG — Mexico forward Rene Cuellar converted a shot on goal during the 35th minute of the first period of a Group “B” CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers contest against Jamaica on Wednesday at H-E-B Park.

That score stood the rest of the way as Mexico went on to beat Jamaica 1-0 in Day 2 of a doubleheader in Edinburg.

Mexico will be back on the field to take on St. Kitts and Nevis at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the same venue.

Each team had early shots on goal on both sides of the field but could not convert in a game that came down to ball possession. The match started out as a dual as both attempted to execute the cross passing and find gaps to take the upper hand. It was apparent Jamaica looked to secure a draw as the game wound down.

“It was a hard match and they are a great rival,” Mexico head coach Christopher Cuellar said. “They have interesting players with different abilities, but what was most important tonight was to gain the three points.”

Jamaica came out strong in the second period after making tactical adjustments.

“We were tentative in the first half and we responded,” Jamaica head coach Hubert Busby said. “We had some opportunities in front of goal. Goals change games, and if we had taken those it would have been a different story.”

Jamaica’s Tiffany Cameron and Kayla Mccoy took advantage of the team strategy, taking two consecutive shots on goal at the 70-minute mark.

Waving off Jamaica’s strong attack on goal was Mexico goalkeeper Emily Alvarado.

“We have been working on our movement in our front four and being more fluid in getting different looks,” Busby said. “It’s a system we are trying to implement that will allow our players to go out and express themselves within it.”

HISTORIC GOAL

Canada’s Christine Sinclair scored her 185th international goal in Canada’s CONCACAF Women’s Olympic qualifiers game against Saint Kitts and Nevis in the first game of the Wednesday doubleheader at H-E-B Park.

Sinclair made history during the 22nd minute of the first period, converting a shot on goal to break the all-time international goals record across men’s and women’s soccer.

Canada’s Christine Sinclair, front left, celebrates with teammates after scoring against St. Kitts and Nevis during a CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying soccer match Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, in Edinburg, Texas. (Joel Martinez/The Monitor via AP)

It was the first of two goals for Sinclair in a contest that helped lift the Canadian team to an 11-0 victory over Caribbean national team Saint Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday afternoon.

“Before the game, Adri (Adriana Leon) told me, ‘Don’t worry, I got you,’” Sinclair said. “All that was going through my mind was, ‘Don’t miss the net.’ And when it went in, it was a relief in the best possible way. And now I have more things to focus on now.”

Canada will face Jamaica at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Sinclair’s record goal came off a pass from teammate Leon across the top from the right side to a waiting Sinclair inside a gap where she took her shot on goal a few feet away from the goalkeeper.

Sinclair surpassed US woman’s national team legend Abby Wambach’s 184 goals.

“Congratulations to Christine for this incredible achievement. It is an amazing feat and she deserves all the credit and accolades she will rightly receive,” CONCACAF president Victor Montagaliani said. “To play elite football for 20 years at the very top level — in multiple World Cups, Olympic Games and CONCACAF Women’s Championships — is remarkable in itself. To have scored an all-time record goal haul, and still going strong, is truly outstanding.”

Canada head coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller had a front row seat as he watched Sinclair etch her name in the record books.

“To be a part of this is history created right in front of your eyes, and something I’m a tiny little part of, is just a great privilege,” Heiner-Moller said. “I know it’s something that has been going on and talked about and to have the pressure off and having the release on this date. I’m so happy for her and proud.”

Sinclair ended the night with a message to kids to dream big and put in the work to realize those ambitions.

“When I first joined the national team, I had goals and dreams and aspirations of passing Mia Hamm one day,” Sinclair said. “Obviously, I should have aimed higher not knowing Abby would have beaten her, but I never could have imagined that I would reach the totals that I have.”

rgarcia@themonitor.com