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Winger Ryan Telfer returns to York 9 FC of the Canadian Premier League


TORONTO — Winger Ryan Telfer wanted to come home and York 9 FC was only too happy to oblige.

Toronto FC originally loaned the 26-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago via Mississauga, Ont., to the Canadian Premier League club in March 2019. He scored the first goal in CPL history, ending the season with eight goals in 26 games.

After Toronto opted not to pick up his contract option last November, he left in January on a short-term contract with Nea Salamina Famagusta of the Cypriot First Division.

When the Cyprus league was a four-month "fun experience," Canada beckoned when the league was shuttered due to the global pandemic.

"I just wanted to come back home to help out the family back in Canada," Telfer said.

Once he decided to return, the Canadian embassy helped get him back to London to catch a flight to Toronto.

He says he might have stayed in Cyprus, where he played five to six games, if the pandemic had not happened.

"In terms of the level (of play), what I saw was pretty similar to what I have experienced in MLS," he said. "It really opened up my eyes to realize that some football here in North America is not really that far off compared to Europe."

Telfer made CPL history by scoring three minutes into the league's opening game against Forge FC at Tim Hortons Field in April 2019 in Hamilton. He also became the first to score for a CPL team against MLS opposition when he connected against the Montreal Impact in the Canadian Championship.

Telfer added another honour when, playing for Trinidad and Tobago against Martinique in the CONCACAF Nations League, he became the first player from the CPL ranks to score internationally.

"He will always be a hugely important figure for both York 9 FC and the CPL after scoring such significant firsts," York 9 managing consultant Angus McNab said in a statement. "After the sale of Emilio (Estevez to Dutch club ADO Den Haag), it was important to ensure we brought in a top-quality replacement, and with Ryan, we have done that."

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.

Telfer returns with fond memories of Cyprus, an island nation that evoked memories of Trinidad and Tobago.

"Everyone's laid-back and super-friendly because they're a tourist country," said Telfer, who has been capped six times by Trinidad and Tobago.

Beautiful weather helped.

While York 9 returned to training Wednesday, Telfer remained at home with three days to go in his self-quarantine.

The eight-team CPL was slated to kick off its second season on April 11 but postponed the start of the campaign due to the global pandemic.

Telfer says he enjoyed Year 1 in the league.

"It kind of brought me back to the roots of why I started playing the game. Just being able, I guess, to be more free and express myself last year was pretty enjoyable for me. The things I did last year were obviously the result of that."

York 9 has strengthened its roster with the addition of Canadian midfielders Chris Mannella (Ottawa Fury FC) and Michael Petrasso (Valour FC).

Coach Jimmy Brennan has also brought in attacking talent in Brazil's Jaco and Gabriel Vasconcelos, Jamaica's Nicholas Hamilton and Peru's Adrian Ugarriza as well as Argentine midfielder Brian Lopez.

Telfer came up the ladder playing for York University and League 1 Ontario's Vaughan Azzurri. 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.

"I took that opportunity with both hands and did what I could in that period of time," Telfer said. "They have a big role in how I have turned out today."

Telfer, who can play a wealth of positions but favours an attacking role, made 19 combined appearances (MLS and Canadian Championship) with one goal and two assists for Toronto FC in 2018.

He spent 2017 with TFC II, making 38 appearances with one goal and one assist.

Telfer has fond memories of his time with TFC, saying they got the ball rolling in his pro career.

And he respects that the club was open with him in discussions about his future, knowing he needed minutes on the pitch in a position the team was looking to strengthen with a top import signing.

"It was up to me if I wanted to try and stick around and try to earn a contract again come January (2020)," he said. "Because they saw me as an asset still that could possibly be used but not in terms of getting those maximum minutes."


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020.


Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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