Shortly ahead of the match in Colorado last weekend, Toronto FC announced three internal signings, as well as the return of Jason Hernandez, to bolster the squad as a busy stretch of league and Concacaf Champions League approached. Both Aidan Daniels and Julian Dunn are graduates of the TFC Academy, while Ryan Telfer came to the club last season.
Both Telfer and Dunn made their debuts against the Rapids, while Daniels put in perhaps his finest performance in red on Wednesday night as Toronto FC II drew 0-0 against North Carolina FC at BMO Field.
Here are some quick introductions to the trio:
A 19-year old midfielder, Daniels has appeared in all three TFC II matches this season, his third in USL.
Daniels began the year with the first team in Los Angeles during preseason, an experience he relished: “I learned a lot from guys like Michael [Bradley], Victor [Vazquez], just being around them; got closer with guys like [Jonathan] Osorio and Ashtone [Morgan].”
“The little things that made them professionals,” expanded Daniels on those lessons. “Finding those little details and applying them to your game, which will help me a lot this year.”
Last year, Daniels described himself as: “A technical player. I like to find pockets and drive at the defence.”
Asked who he models his game after, Daniels said, “[Andres] Iniesta: he’s the best midfielder in the game.”
In Liam Fraser, who joined the first team in December, Daniels will find a familiar face at the MLS level. The pair have played in the midfield together at TFC since 2013.
“I’ve grow with the guy,” said Fraser. “His ability to penetrate through the middle is hard to come by. His ability to get himself into attacking position and face forward is what a lot of teams and players like to play [with]. He’s a massive asset going forward. “
A 17-year old centre-back, Dunn made his debut last summer for TFC II before signing a professional deal later in the season.
First team coach Jason Bent, who coached Dunn in USL at the time, called him, “a young prospect we feel has some serious upside.”
“He’s a big physical presence; he’s strong, he’s quick. A good one-vs-one defender,” detailed Bent after Dunn made his debut as a 16-year old. Proving, “if you’re good enough it doesn’t matter how young you are.”
Dunn described himself as, “more of a physical type of player and a defender first... a big defender. All defence.”
Said Greg Vanney: “He’s got a great demeanour about him, good athleticism. He likes to defend, relishes those moments, has a good physicality about him, and he’s shown composure with the ball, finding his passes out pressure or moments when he needs to carry forward.”
“First and foremost he’s a competitive guy,” added Vanney. “He’s not in awe of the situation, he just goes out and does his job.”
That relish was obvious against the Rochester Rhinos last September when Dunn spotted the brewing trouble and recovered into position to make a massive defensive play.
Bent credited the play as, “a natural instinct he has as a defender; a great quality for a young man to have at this stage of his career.”
“It’s something we as coaches are trying to constantly remind, to instill in the players,”continued Bent. “But I don’t think that came from the coaches. That was sheer instinct: he didn’t want to concede a goal. If he switched off for a second, for sure it would have been a goal.”
Added Bent: “We’re very optimistic about his future.”
He joins Ayo Akinola as the first members of the 2000 age group to join the MLS side.
Upon signing that pro deal shortly thereafter, Dunn said: “It’s amazing to be at such an amazing club.”
“I’m so happy to be here,” continued Dunn. “Coaches pushing me, motivating me; look [up] to some amazing players: [Sebastian] Giovinco, [Jozy] Altidore, Drew Moor, plays my position.”
Asked if his free-kick abilities were up to snuff, Dunn laughed: “Not like Gio’s, but one day....”
A versatile 24-year old, Telfer joined TFC II at the start of the 2017 season after spending time at York University. Days later, he scored in his first professional match, away to Phoenix Rising FC in the season opener.
“Everything you saw on that play is why we signed him,” said Bent upon returning to Toronto. “He’s very quick; he’s direct; brave – puts his head and body in places others wouldn’t dare. He’s also got a nice left foot. That direct style, explosiveness and strength are good attributes for a striker.”
One game; one goal. His first professional goal on his first touch no less.
“It should be expected of me that every game I play I should be able to make an impact,” said Telfer. “That is a goal I set for myself: when I get a chance, I have to take it.”
Capable anywhere on the left-side, Telfer has featured as a wing-back, wide midfielder, and at striker. In the first TFC II match of the season against New York Red Bulls II, Telfer exhibited how much of a handful he can be, probing the opposition defences relentlessly.
“He has the power for that, the speed for that,” said Laurent Guyot. “He got good chances. A little luckier in this game and he could have finished with one goal and two assists. For a striker, that’s not too bad. He’s always a danger for opponent.”