TORONTO — Ryan Telfer wasted little time making his mark after signing with Toronto FC 2.
The 23-year-old former York University forward, who officially joined Toronto FC's USL feeder club last Friday, scored eight minutes into his pro debut Saturday night to secure a 1-0 win over Phoenix Rising FC before a soldout crowd of 6,890 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"It was out of this world, to be honest," Telfer said in his lilting Trinidadian accent. "Walking on the field and you have thousands watching you, it was almost like a dream. When you're growing up as a kid, these are things you want to do.
"It's so hard to explain that feeling, just walking into the stadium."
TFC 2 coach Jason Bent appreciates the feel-good story. While the former Canadian international's job is about trying to groom players for his team's MLS big brother, he and his staff also help unearth talent.
Telfer was invited to a TFC-organized college combine late last year after 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," said Bent. "He settled into pre-season camp and did more than fine."
Telfer scored a number of goals in pre-season and convinced the coaching staff he belonged in a fine performance against Ottawa Fury FC.
The young forward paid them back in Phoenix.
"You always want players to justify your selections and he definitely took his opportunity, so it's more down to him than us," said Bent. "It was a good performance from him. He was a threat all night long. They couldn't handle his pace. ... All in all, a good encouraging debut."
His goal was icing on the cake. A sliding Telfer capped off an eight-pass movement that featured a fine through ball from midfielder Jay Chapman and a low accurate cross raked into the penalty box by forward Ben Spencer.
"I couldn't have scored the goal without Chapman and Spencer. And the other bunch of guys that were playing," Telfer said. "They just made it happen. All I had to do was put the finishing touch to it."
The five-foot-11 180-pound 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.
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 when he was 17 for school.
These days he is three years into a civil engineering degree at York University, although his studies have been reduced to part-time to fit his soccer in. He practises in the morning, goes to classes in the afternoon and then hits the books in the library in the evening.
He lives in suburban Mississauga which makes for quite a commute to the club's north Toronto training centre. "It's like five buses," he said with a laugh. "Bit of a hectic journey."
A good time to study?
"I use that time to sleep," he laughed.
Toronto FC plays its next two games in Florida, taking on the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday and Orlando City B on Tuesday.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press