The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) announced today that Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Philippe Davies and striker Randy Edwini-Bonsu have been called up to Canada's U-23 Olympic team for a week-long training camp next week.
Products of the Whitecaps Residency program, Davies and Edwini-Bonsu were named in a 21-player squad by U-23 head coach Tony Fonseca. It is the former Whitecaps head coach's first opportunity to evaluate players, as he begins preparations towards Canada's qualification campaign for the 2012 Men's Olympic Football Tournament in London, England. The squad also includes West Vancouver, BC, native Michael Nonni, while former Whitecaps goalkeeper Pat Onstad will serve as assistant coach. The squad will gather in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the January camp on Monday.
"I am very excited to get this group together for the first time," Fonseca told CanadaSoccer.com. "It will be a great opportunity to work with these players, as we begin preparations for the next Men's Olympic Football Tournament."
Davies, 19, joins the Canadian U-23 squad after breaking into the Whitecaps men's team in 2009. The native of Longueuil, Quebec, made his men's team debut when he came on as a late substitute during a 4-0 home win over Minnesota Thunder in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) First Division on July 9. The midfielder's first-ever men's team start came on August 6 during a 1-0 defeat at Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers. Davies also recorded two assists in nine USL Premier Development League (PDL) appearances for the Residency team last season.
As a member of the Canadian U-20 squad in 2009, Davies appeared at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Trinidad & Tobago last March before captaining the side to a fourth-place finish at the VI Francophone Games this past autumn. The midfielder started all four of Canada's matches during the men's soccer competition in Beirut, Lebanon, and recorded assists on both of Canada's goals during a 2-2 extra-time draw with Congo in the semifinals on October 3. Congo went on to win the semifinal 2-1 on penalties.
Edwini-Bonsu, 19, also joins the U-23 squad after a promising season with the Whitecaps men's team, having initially made his debut during the 2008 campaign. Though he did not start a match in 2009, the striker made 15 substitute appearances, with his first men's team point coming on August 23 when he assisted on Charles Gbeke's second goal during a 2-0 home win over Miami FC Blues. Edwini-Bonsu then scored his first men's team goal during the first leg of the Whitecaps first round playoff series versus Carolina RailHawks on September 24. His match winner helped the Whitecaps win the playoff series 1-0 on aggregate. The striker also scored two goals for the Residency team during their 6-0 home win over Yakima Reds in the PDL on July 4.
Like Davies, the speedy Edwini-Bonsu was one of seven Whitecaps players to be named in Canada's 20-player squad for the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Trinidad & Tobago. The striker started all three of Canada's group matches versus hosts Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, and Costa Rica. This included both goals in Canada's 2-0 win over Mexico on March 9. Unfortunately, Canada's results in Group B meant they missed out on qualification for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. Edwini-Bonsu also earned 14 caps for Canada at the U-17 international level between April 2006 and May 2007.
Meanwhile, Whitecaps midfielder Nizar Khalfan was also on international duty with his native Tanzania. The 'Taifa Stars' lost 1-0 to Côte d'Ivoire in a friendly on January 4, with Chelsea striker Didier Drogba scoring the match winner at a sold-out Tanzania National Main Stadium in Dar es Salaam.