By Michael Lewis
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The CONCACAF Olympic women's qualifying tournament has turned into a Christine Sinclair highlight video.
The Canadian striker connected for two more goals on Friday night, leading the host nation into the London Olympic Games behind a 3-1 victory over Mexico at BC Place.
The pair of goals gave Sinclair a tournament-leading nine and an average of over two per game in the tournament. Friday's semifinals results, which also included the United States' 3-0 victory over Costa Rica, will pit Wambach against Sinclair for the CONCACAF crown on Sunday.
"Canada is a very good side without the exception of Sinclair, who is in another world," Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar said.
"The way she smells the play, the savvy. No question one of the best players in the world."
Cuellar's assessment came after Sinclair was felled when Marylin Diaz raked her ankle as she helped set up Melissa Tancredi's goal in the 23rd minute to give Canada a 2-0 lead.
"That's Christine, ain't it?" Herdman said. "Broken nose. Broken ankle. She'll play with anything. She's special."
The pair of goals by Sinclair gaver her 129 for her career, moving her one past Germany's Birgit Prinz and tying her with the United States' Abby Wambach for third most in women's history. It was a milestone that Sinclair was unaware of.
"With Abby, she's just a tremendous talent," she said. "It is an honor to be sort of at the same level as her. To past Birgit -- she is one of the world's best to ever play -- I have so much respect for her for what she did in her career. It's just an honor."
Sinclair was the star of the night with the help of Tancredi, who scored one goal and set up both of Sinclair's.
"It was incredible. We've had quite the connections in this tournament," Sinclair said. "When she's healthy, she's such a force out there. She takes so much attention away from me."
Since their winless, first-round elimination in last summer's Women's World Cup, the Canadians have rediscovered that spirit again under Herdman.
Sinclair said booking a spot in the London Summer Games was not redemption.
"I think the redemption will have to come in the Olympics," she said, giving credit for the team's turnaround to Herdman.
"The World Cup was disappointing for us. For the most part, it was disappointing for the world except for Japan. When John came on board, he brought the passion back to our team. We showed that tonight."
Sinclair and Tancredi had Canada ahead 2-0 by the 23rd minute, but Mexico managed to surge in the second half, pulling within a goal when Veronica Perez capitalized on a spate of possession and chances in the 67th minute.
"We're just a team that will never give up," Sinclair said. "It's that something John's brought to this program, just the fight. When we gave up that goal in the second half, I think we would have collapsed. We just kept going and kept battling and got the third goal that closed out the game."