It’s early days yet but the 24-year-old midfielder-forward from Mississauga, via Trinidad and Tobago, is turning heads. Telfer topped off a man-of-the-match performance Friday night with the winning goal in Toronto FC’s 2-1 victory over Orlando City SC.
Telfer, making his fourth start, opened his MLS account with a beauty — a left-footed volley off a long-distance cross from Brazilian fullback Auro.
Two years ago, Telfer was scoring goals for York University. He was invited to a TFC-organized college combine in late 2016 after then-Toronto FC 2 coach Jason Bent and assistant coach Chris Pozniak, who knew York coach Carmine Isacco and his roster, suggested adding some local players.
A good showing there led to a training camp invitation.
“We thought he was something different — left-footed, very very quick, direct, strong and brave, very very brave,” Bent said at the time. “He settled into pre-season camp and did more than fine.”
The five-foot-11 180-pounder wasted little time marking his mark after signing with TFC 2 in March 2017. He scored eight minutes into his pro debut in a 1-0 win over Phoenix Rising FC before a sold-out crowd of 6,890 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Telfer, who had one goal and one assist in 29 TFC 2 matches last season, only signed a first-team deal in mid-April.
His first three starts were at left fullback thanks to a rash of injuries. He moved up to the left side of midfield against Orlando, giving makeshift fullback Will Johnson — in his 249th career MLS start — fits with his probing runs and crosses.
“He did exactly what we wanted him to do on the attacking side,” said coach Greg Vanney. “Which was get on the ball when he could and be aggressive and try to run at the outside back.”
“He gave us an honest day’s work defensively,” he added.
Added midfielder Jay Chapman: “He was dangerous all game.”
Telfer hardly cracked a smile after scoring, admitting later: “To be honest, it hasn’t sunk it as of yet.”
“I’m just happy to be part of the team and help these guys win,” he said in his lilting Trinidadian accent.
With Justin Morrow a long-term casualty with a calf injury and Ashtone Morgan nursing a sore hamstring, Toronto has been short on the left side. Telfer has proved to be a useful, albeit very soft-spoken, addition.
“He’s another guy that’s stepped in and learned and only gotten better with every game he’s played,” said defender Eriq Zavaleta.
“He’s a good kid. He works hard,” he added.
Captain Michael Bradley also likes what he sees, pointing to Telfer’s athleticism, power and competitiveness.
“When we needed a play tonight, he came through for us.”
Born in Canada to parents from Trinidad and Tobago, Telfer grew up in Chaguanas in central Trinidad but regularly visited family here. He moved to Canada for school when he was 17.
Signing with Toronto FC has not gone to his head. He continued his civil engineering degree at York on a part-time basis. And he took a procession of buses to get to the team’s north Toronto training ground.
Telfer, who started soccer as a goalkeeper before switching to wingback, midfielder and ultimately forward, has been waiting a long time to be noticed. Growing up, Trinidad soccer officials ignored him.
“I’ve always been looked past, my entire life — until now,” he said after joining TFC 2.
SOURCE: Toronto Star