Soccer on the brain pays off - The Province

He thinks! He scores! Marc Weber Whitecaps' Randy Edwini-Bonsu revived an old 10-minute visualization technique with spectacular results on a recent tour of Japan, where he scored 11 goals in five games. Randy Edwini-Bonsu credits 10 minutes for his 11 goals. The Whitecaps residency program's diminutive dynamo -- who will play for the senior 'Caps this coming season -- scored a stunning 11 times as the squad piled up a 5-0-0 record on their recent tour of Japan. Before the trip, program director and head coach Thomas Niendorf talked to Edwini-Bonsu about being more focussed for 90 minutes. So the Ghana-born forward brought back a mental preparation method he'd last used at the under-14 level: 10 minutes of visualization. Three hat tricks and several turned heads later, he's sticking with it. "Ten minutes to train my brain, I haven't done that in a long time," he said. "I tried bringing it back to see how it goes and it worked. I just couldn't stop scoring. "Usually I can't last a whole 90 minutes with the right mindset. I start off slow, or start quick and drop off at the end. "Thomas put a lot of pressure on me, he said the younger guys look up to me and everything I do talks to them. I think I've developed a lot with my abilities, and I've developed mentally." Niendorf didn't have enough good things to say about his side, which adjusted to the quick, technical Japanese style and knocked off three under-19 J-League first division teams. And he was elated by Edwini-Bonsu's performance, calling it a key moment of growth for the 18-year-old who only took up organized soccer when he moved to Edmonton at age 12. "I can truly say after this trip that Randy has matured," said Niendorf, noting that the knock on Edwini-Bonsu was a need to remind him to work. "He has grown out of this. He wasn't just scoring goals, he was very busy on the field, he was consistent with his performance, not just having moments." At just 5-foot-5 and 140 pounds, Edwini-Bonsu relies largely on his speed and a well-timed through-ball to generate chances. He played 36 minutes in four appearances for the Whitecaps' men last season, but practised with them for much of the season. The transition, he said, will be easier because of that. "The style is different; we [residency] play with a diamond midfield and they are more direct," he said, "but you have to adjust quickly, and I'm excited to see what I can do." He could also be part of Canada's under-20 team heading to the March CONCACAF championship with an eye on the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Edwini-Bonsu wasn't selected by Tony Fonseca to this week's Florida camp, but he attended the previous Canadian camp in Switzerland. "Tony ensured me that he was pretty satisfied with what he saw from Randy on the last trip, and he's looking at as many players as he can," said Niendorf. "I think Randy has a good status on the U20s." No doubt Fonseca has read the statistics from Japan and that can only help. Edwini-Bonsu's dominance was such that he attracted serious interest from at least one J-League first division team. "I've never really thought about playing in Japan," he said, "but I'd play there. They pay pretty good money and the soccer is good. We went to a game and the whole city was into it. Just a great atmosphere, like you see with Manchester United." mweber@theprovince.com © The Vancouver Province 2008