LION TURNED LION TAMER: York product Ryan Telfer powers Toronto FC to crucial home win

TORONTO – It may not have been a vintage performance, but every point counts the same at the end of the year.

Toronto FC picked up a much-needed three points on Friday night with a 2-1 win over Orlando City SC at BMO Field.

“We gutted out a win,” said TFC head coach Greg Vanney post-match. “It wasn't a tactical beauty, wasn't perfect by any stretch, but at the end of the day it's about doing the things you have to do to get the result. That's what the guys did. Tonight was about 'find a way' and they did.”

Having lost two straight heading into the match, mired near the basement, with the rest of the Eastern Conference galloping away, Friday's result was important.

“We needed three points no matter how it happened, whether it was pretty, ugly,” said Eriq Zavaleta, one of the injured defenders to return, slotting in alongside Chris Mavinga, thereby allowing Michael Bradley to step into his natural midfield and Gregory van der Wiel to take up the left back position.

“To get the first goal, feel good about ourselves and the position we put ourselves in and [then] give one up is difficult," continued Zavaleta. “It takes a lot of courage, belief in each other, to push again and get that second goal. This team believes in each other, you saw that out there tonight.”

With the match seemingly a stalemate, Tosaint Ricketts came on the hour-mark, latched onto a Victor Vazquez throughball, only to see his finish beat Joe Bendik in the Orlando goal and rebound off the post. But Jay Chapman was on hand to tuck in the rebound.

Ricketts himself then looked to add a second shortly thereafter, only for a late offside flag to be raised and cancel it out. Seconds later, Orlando went up the other end and Christian Higuita blasted an equalizer past Alex Bono.

And just went it appeared that TFC would drop more points at home, Ryan Telfer stepped up to volley home the game-winner in the 87th minute off a right-sided cross from Auro.

Telfer, playing in his fourth MLS match, was a threat up the left side all night.

“Ryan did exactly what we wanted him to do,” detailed Vanney. “Get on the ball, be aggressive, run at the outside back, get to the endline, run behind.... Do whatever he could to get into dangerous positions. Provided some decent service throughout and in the end, with a load of confidence, he took that one out of the air and finished it.”

Added Zavaleta: “Without Sebastian [Giovinco] and Jozy [Altidore], we were looking for someone to step up to win us the game. He did exactly that. Another guy that has stepped in, learned, and only gotten better with every game he's played. Today was the culmination of all that.”

Telfer himself, who barely celebrated at the time, explained afterwards: “You can't celebrate until that final whistle has blown.

“To get three points was a good enough feeling for me,” added Telfer. “Happy to be part of team, help these guys win.”

Signed to a USL contract with TFC II at the start of 2017 and graduated to the first team in April, the 24-year old Telfer has impressed on the left side in his first steps in MLS.

Just a few years ago he was playing soccer for nearby York University. But on Friday he scored a massive goal for TFC.

“It hasn't sunk in just yet,” demurred Telfer. “When I get home, see the goal back on TV, it'll be a fun experience; it'll probably hit me then.”