Burnaby's Christine Sinclair (right) will lead Team Canada into the Women's World Cup

Burnaby's Christine Sinclair (right) will lead Team Canada into the Women's World Cup

Sinclair: ‘Our goal is to change the sport of soccer here in Canada’

Captain Christine Sinclair thinks the 2015 Women's World Cup in Vancouver could be her sport's watershed moment in Canada.

Christine Sinclair thinks this year’s Women’s World Cup could be a watershed moment for soccer in Canada.

Vancouver will host the tournament in June and July, 2015, and on Monday the 23-player Canadian roster was unveiled downtown at Robson Square.

“I keep thinking back to watching the 1999 Women’s World Cup in the U.S.,” said Sinclair, who’s from Burnaby, B.C. “That single tournament, I think, changed the sport of soccer within the States. I see this World Cup, it has the exact same chance, to do the same here.”

That tournament is no doubt the most famous in the sport’s history. Hosted around the country, the final was held in Pasadena, California’s Rose Bowl. The ’99 World Cup was capped with an American gold medal – in a shootout win over China – and Brandi Chastain’s famous knee-sliding, shirt-off celebration.

It was an iconic moment in a turning-point tournament, especially for the American program. The States has medalled in all three World Cups since and won Olympic golds in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Players like Alex Morgan and Hope Solo have developed into international celebrities and heroes to millions of young Americans, just as Sinclair has done – albeit for a still-to-fully bloom fan base in Canada.

“The young kids that were out today at Robson Square can now dream of representing their country and it’s normal,” Sinclair said. “People don’t think they’re crazy. Our goal is to change the sport of soccer here in Canada.”

Obviously, a win – like the Americans in ’99 – would go a long way.

The Canadians are coming off an incredible showing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where they won bronze but narrowly (and controversially) lost to the United States in the semifinal, 4-3 in extra time.

(Sinclair said then: “We feel like we didn’t lose, we feel like it was taken from us… It’s a shame in a game like that that was so important, the ref decided the result before it started.”)

“Now that the 23 has been nailed down, it’s our job with (head coach) John (Herdman) and the veteran players on the team to create a family,” said Sinclair, Monday. “We always say we are the tightest team, but we have to create that same vibe that we had in London where we would do absolutely anything for each other.

“I think we’re on the way but we’re not quite there yet.”

Video: The Canadian Press