There was an insightful bit of fun in the post-match press conference following York9 FC’s 2-1 win over FC Edmonton on July 14.
Ryan Telfer had just scored the game-winner for York9, latching onto a long-ball from Manny Aparicio before burning past the Edmonton defence to pick out the far-side of goal with a right-footed blast.
“Ryan’s right-foot, it’s not bad. A couple goals with that right foot now,” said York coach Jimmy Brennan, referring to Telfer’s blast against the Montreal Impact in the Canadian Championship as well as the decisive goal against the Eddies.
“He keeps telling me he’s left-footed, but keeps scoring with his right.”
Telfer interjected: “Better than yours, buddy.”
“It is better than mine,” admitted Brennan, breaking into a story. “(Ryan) said to me the other day, he goes, ‘Gaffer, your left-foot is not bad. You know the only difference between you and me?’
‘What’s that?’ asked Brennan. “‘He goes: I’ve got a right-foot.’
On loan from Toronto FC, Telfer has quickly become one of the stars of the Canadian Premier League, scoring two goals in league play, one the first-ever, and another two in the Voyageurs Cup, including York9’s first-ever home goal in the second leg of their series against AS Blainville.
He has a knack for the big moment, as his strike against Montreal evidenced – he scored in his professional debut in USL back in 2017. That back-and-forth with Brennan was a show of how the Mississauga-native has blossomed.
Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney, who watched that match against the Impact closely, was well aware of Telfer’s ambipedal abilities, too.
“I did (know he had a right-foot),” Vanney said with a smile.
“He’s developed a lot of confidence, and he knows he’s capable of not just competing, but excelling,” Vanney continued. “You can see his chest is up and he’s very comfortable, and that he can make a difference.
“That’s part of the purpose (of his loan): to gather that level of belief and feel that (confidence). It’s been a great experience for him and we’ll continue to keep an eye on him.”
Telfer has played in each of York’s 14 CPL matches thus far and all five cup games as well.
“At this point in my career, those minutes in this competitive league are very important for my development,” Telfer said.
“That’s one of the main reasons I came in the first place.”
The calibre of play in the CPL has not surprised him one bit, either.
“One of the first things I said was that a lot of people were going to be surprised at the level of this league and the quality of the players,” Telfer said, noting that for those people, it’s been ‘a pleasant surprise.’
With that decisive second leg against Montreal on Wednesday at Stade Saputo, and with the series tied 2-2, it is clear that Telfer’s loan thus far has borne fruit for both York9 and Toronto, opening the door for similar agreements in the future.
“It has to be an avenue that we continue to look at,” Vanney said. “This year we were all wondering what the CPL was going to look like, how it would fit in, and how could that be of good service to us, but also to those teams.
“We’re getting a better feel of that now as the season progresses.”
CPL clubs are expected to develop their own academy systems in the future – Edmonton has notably looked to theirs this season with the likes to Marcus Velado-Tsegaye, David Doe, and Prince Amanda joining the first team – but until those are fleshed out, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for clubs to make enquiries at the other professional clubs for burgeoning talents like Telfer that are in need of minutes.
A quick look at player resumes across the league sees stints, whether at the first team or academy level, with those other pro clubs – Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and Ottawa Fury FC – dotting every roster. There is tons of talent in Canada; the challenge has always been finding a place to flourish.
“It’s good to have a logjam,” said Vanney of the number of players itching for a step up. “At the end of the day, not all these players are going to come through. But if we can open up new pathways and new doors for them, the ones who don’t play for the first team can go on and have great careers too.
“That’s the way it works everywhere else around the world.”