Familiar face returns to Whitecaps

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

A familiar face was back on the pitch with the Vancouver Whitecaps' women's team Monday afternoon.

Christine Sinclair, arguably the top women's soccer player in North America, rejoined the team on opening day of training camp at Simon Fraser University.

Burnaby-born striker Sinclair last played with the team in 2002 when it was known as the Breakers. She went on to star internationally for Canada and led the University of Portland Pilots to a pair of National Collegiate Athletic Association championships.

Work permit woes thwarted the 22-year-old's plan to join Chelsea FC's women's team in England earlier this year, so she trained in Portland instead.

She's expected to start May 13's W-League home opener when the Seattle Sounders Saints visit Swangard Stadium.

"I can't wait, it'll be nice to play again in front of my family," she said.

Sinclair was among 15 Whitecaps at the initial workout, conducted by assistant coach Steve Simonson.

New head coach Bob Birarda was en route from the under-20 national team's Brazilian tour.

The Whitecaps, captained by veteran Andrea Neil, will be looking to dominate the Western conference again despite automatically qualifying for the W-League final four as host of August's tournament.

The 2004 champion Whitecaps were eliminated in the semi-finals last year.

"We're in it to win it," Sinclair said. "Anything less than that is disappointing."


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