Simply put, Christine Sinclair is the GOAT.
In January, she scored her 184th and 185th goals for Canada, overtaking American Abby Wambach for the all-time lead in international goals.
She cemented herself as the greatest international goalscorer, male or female, and her record will stand for quite some time, with the second-highest active goalscorer being 37-year-old American Carli Lloyd with 123.
Sinclair scored her first international goal in March 2000, and for context, had 14 goals before I was even born, 20 before teammate Jordyn Huitema was born in May 2001, and 49 before recent CanWNT call-up Olivia Smith was born in August 2004.
The main problem for all of the women listed below is that Sinclair is still scoring goals, and could be around for a few more years. With every player now chasing the Canadian striker’s rising goal tally, there are a few who—if they stay healthy and have a long, successful career—have the best chance at catching up.
Potential candidates to break the record
Jordyn Huitema—Canada, 18
The first name on this list is the player seen as the heir to Christine Sinclair’s throne and future focal point of the Canadian women’s national team: Paris Saint-Germain striker Jordyn Huitema. Still just 18, Huitema could potentially have 15+ years left in her international career, if all goes well.
Despite her age, she already has 13 international goals in 33 matches since making her senior debut in 2017. After 32 international appearances Christine Sinclair had a remarkable 23 goals already, but if Huitema can keep up her good start to her international career, she’ll accomplish great things as well, and maybe close that gap a bit.
Statistically, Huitema has scored about 0.4 goals per game (13 in 33), and at that rate, she’d need to play 465 matches to equal Sinclair’s 186 international goals, which shows just how incredible the record is.
Alex Morgan—U.S.A., 30
Alex Morgan is the only player on this list who already has 100+ goals to her name—one of just four active players to reach the milestone (Carli Lloyd has 123, Marta has 108 and Sinclair has 186). She’s fourth among active players with 107, leaving her in a tie for 9th all-time.
She’ll turn 31 in July, and presumably has plenty of good years ahead of her still. She is currently pregnant with her first child and is due to give birth in April; had COVID-19 not arisen, she made it clear that she planned on playing at Tokyo 2020.
Morgan could have two more World Cup cycles ahead of her, as well as two or three Olympic Games, and the USWNT will likely be a powerhouse in the women’s game for years to come, so she’ll have a great chance to score plenty of goals and go deep into every tournament she plays in.
Sinclair has been pretty much uncontested as the starter for Canada for two decades, however, which is what has allowed to play so many games and score so many goals. The USWNT have much more depth than Canada has had, so Morgan might not be the focal point for the rest of her career, but only time will tell with that one.
She also has the same goals per game average (~0.63) as Christine Sinclair, so if she can keep that rate up for better part of the next decade, the two-time World Cup winner will have a shot at passing Sinclair.
Khadija Shaw—Jamaica, 23
Khadija Shaw has scored at an astronomical rate since making her senior debut for Jamaica in 2015. She has found the back of the net a remarkable 42 times in just 30 matches, and at just 23 years old, could play for many years to come.
At the remarkable rate she’s currently at, 1.4 goals per game, Shaw, who plies her trade at club level for French club Bordeaux, could score 186 goals in just 132 matches! But realistically speaking, maintaining a goalscoring rate that high is next to impossible, right?
There are two players in the history of international women’s soccer who have scored 100+ international goals and have a goals per game higher than 0.81. Italy’s Elisabetta Vignotto reportedly scored 107 goals in 110 matches in the 1970s and 1980s (for a rate of 0.97 goals/game), and Scotland’s Julie Fleeting scored 116 in 121 matches (0.96).
Keeping a rate above 1.0 over a lengthy career will be extremely difficult, but if Shaw can do it for anywhere near the number of games Sinclair has played, she could absolutely smash the record.
Vivianne Miedema—Netherlands, 23
Another 23-year-old talisman, Vivianne Miedema is one of the best strikers in the women’s game, for club and country. The Arsenal and Netherlands forward has already scored 69 times for “de Leeuwinnen” in just 88 matches, including twice in the 2017 Women’s Euro Final against Denmark.
She has already proven herself over a long period of time for the Netherlands, which is why I think she’s the most likely of anyone on this list to be the eventual record holder. The Netherlands are a powerhouse in the women’s game and Miedema is a big part of that.
Her 69 goals is the Dutch record for both men and women, passing Robin van Persie’s men’s record (50) in September 2018, and Manon Melis’ women’s record (59) at the Women’s World Cup in June 2019.
At her current rate of 0.78 goals per game, Miedema could reach 186 international goals by her 238th international appearance and like Alex Morgan, plays for a team that scores a lot of goals and has been going deep into tournaments.
Miedema recently praised Sinclair and the record on Copa90’s “That’s The Tea”, which can be watched here. They start talking about Sinclair’s record around the 27:40 mark of the video.
In order for any of the players listed above, or anyone else for that matter, to reach Sinclair’s tally, they’ll have to put in the better part of a decade (or longer) of good, consistent performances and continue to pile up the goals.
The record will stand for quite some time, and the next milestone Sinclair will be going for will be becoming the first player to score 200+ international goals.
Records are meant to be broken, and some of the players on this list will have a shot at breaking it, but it makes you appreciate just how special a player Sinclair is, and how lucky we are in Canada to have watched her over the last couple of decades.
Her longevity at the highest level is thanks to her work ethic and ability to adapt to the scores of teammates and coaches she’s encountered since her debut at the 2000 Algarve Cup.
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