With both Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF preparing for their inaugural Major League Soccer seasons, another expansion draft is due to get underway next week. 19 MLS clubs will need to participate in the draft, which gives the two aforementioned expansion teams an opportunity to take players from the other MLS teams.
Clubs that lost a player to the expansion draft last year are exempt from this year’s draft. MLS Cup runners-up Toronto FC didn’t lose anyone to the draft last year, which means that TFC head coach Greg Vanney may potentially lose one of his players in this year’s edition of the expansion draft.
While he was allowed to protect a limited amount of players on the club roster, one of the club’s unprotected players will be a familiar name for Canadian Premier League fans: it’s none other than former York9 FC winger Ryan Telfer.
The 25-year-old winger had a stellar year in Canada’s only domestic professional league: he scored ten goals in 32 appearances across all competitions, including the league’s first-ever goal and, later on, a crucial one against the Montreal Impact in the Voyageurs Cup.
His quick attacking play and positional versatility eventually led to a call-up for Trinidad and Tobago, for whom he scored a goal for on his second appearance. He was also recalled to Toronto FC for a single match, contributing an assist in just three minutes on the pitch. All-in-all, he impressed head coach Greg Vanney as he racked up professional minutes on-loan in the CPL, though his future with the MLS side ultimately remains unclear.
With Toronto FC having no shortage of attacking midfield options through the likes of Jonathan Osorio, Nicolas Benezet, Alejandro Pozuelo, Marky Delgado, and Nick DeLeon, the club has opted to leave Telfer unprotected. Even midfielder Tsubasa Endoh, who started in the 2019 MLS Cup Final, was left unprotected. The club is likely gambling that neither Nashville nor Miami will want to use an international roster spot on the Japanese midfielder.
For US-based clubs, Telfer would similarly count as an international, as Canadian players only count as domestic players for Canadian MLS sides. It’s another calculated rationale behind leaving the 25-year-old unprotected.
Even if Telfer doesn’t get picked up by Nashville or Inter Miami, it’s not clear if the Mississauga-born winger lies in Vanney’s plans: York9 FC gaffer Jim Brennan said he would love to have Telfer back, but any potential move – whether it comes as a permanent transfer or another loan – may depend on whether Toronto FC renews Telfer’s contract, which is set to expire at the end of the calendar year.
Of course, Telfer isn’t the only Toronto FC player left unprotected: it wouldn’t be too surprising to see either expansion team pick up Justin Morrow, Laurent Ciman, or Tsubasa Endoh, so the fact that Telfer is more of a known product in Canada than the USA may benefit CPL fans hoping he’ll return to the league in the near future.
Still, Inter Miami hasn’t been shy about picking up players with high ceilings from north of the border: the club has already acquired David Norman Jr. from Vancouver (who spent a month on loan with Pacific FC), and also picked up Toronto FC midfielder Jay Chapman last week.
The 2019 MLS Expansion Draft will take place on Tuesday, November 19. Both Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF will be allowed to draft up to five players each, with the caveat that once a player is selected from an existing MLS team, no other player can be drawn from that club’s roster. So, if Nashville or Inter Miami picks up Morrow, it means that Telfer and the rest of the unprotected TFC players would be exempt from the rest of the draft.
For what it’s worth, it seems like Telfer prefers to stay close to home: he almost went on loan to the now-defunct Ottawa Fury earlier this year, but York9 FC assistant head coach Carmine Isacco – who coached him through his years at York University – ultimately convinced Telfer that a loan closer to home would be a better fit for him.
Interestingly, FC Cincinnati’s Blake Smith is neither on the MLS side’s roster nor on the club’s unprotected list. Despite being placed on waivers by FC Cincinnati earlier this year, he was still loaned to Pacific FC for the duration of the inaugural season. Smith’s future in the MLS remains unclear, and when asked if a potential return to the Canadian Premier League was on the cards, he simply said that one never know what the future holds.
SOURCE: Northern Tribune