By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency completed their 12-day tour of Japan in fine style with a 4-2 victory over Himeji City U-19's on Saturday.
Though it was their fifth game in seven days, the young 'Caps ensured their trip to the Far East nation ended with a 100 per cent record of five wins, no defeats, and no draws, as Randy Edwini-Bonsu struck his third hat-trick of the tour during the weekend win. It also capped an impressive set of results, which included three victories against the U-19 sides of J.League Division One clubs Vissel Kobe, Kyoto Sanga, and Gamba Osaka.
Vancouver were missing two experienced members for the Saturday morning match, as Philippe Davies and Ethan Gage left Japan early in order to join Canada's U-20 men's national team for a week-long training camp in Florida on Sunday.
With head coach Thomas Niendorf also travelling back to North America with Davies and Gage, assistant coach Steve Meadley took charge of the Residency side for the final match of the trip, with Himeji providing a stern test for the in-form Whitecaps.
The Canadian visitors took the lead on the quarter-hour mark, as the prolific Edwini-Bonsu got in behind the Himeji backline to make it 1-0. However, the lead lasted only a minute, as the Japanese hosts made it 1-1.
As with their previous matches in Japan, Niendorf's squad have not allowed any setbacks to affect them, and on 20 minutes, Kevin Cobby restored the Whitecaps lead with a curling shot that dipped into the Himeji goal from 20 yards out.
Cobby's strike saw the visitors claim full control of the friendly contest in the latter stages of the first half, with Edwini-Bonsu ensuring a fifth-straight win with two more goals on 37 and 39 minutes for a 4-1 Vancouver lead at halftime. In all, Edwini-Bonsu scored a total of 11 goals during the team's trip to Japan.
Though some amount of fatigue set in come the start of the second half, the Residency team still created further goalscoring opportunities through Edwini-Bonsu and winger Alex Semenets. Yet, it was Himeji that found the scoresheet on 78 minutes to make the final scoreline more respectable.
Meadley was delighted with Saturday's performance and the determination of the young 'Caps to go undefeated in Japan. "We're very proud of all the players for the way they have represented the club like true, young professionals - both on and off the pitch," he told whitecapsfc.com. "It has been a great week of games and a great trip for us all round."
Whitecaps Residency will return home to Vancouver on Monday and look ahead to the New Year, with 2009 shaping up to be an exciting 12 months for the program.
Whitecaps FC Residency – starting line-up v Himeji City
Simon Thomas; Drew Russell, Jack Cubbon, Antonio Rago, William Hyde; Bobby Jhutty, Kevin Cobby, Gagandeep Dosanjh, Alex Semenets; Russell Teibert, Randy Edwini-Bonsu
Subs used: Sahil Sandhu 37', Coulton Jackson 40'
Subs not used: Julien Latendresse-Levesque