All season long, CanPL.ca reviewed key performers from each Canadian Premier League match, giving due credit to a trio of players who impressed over 90 minutes. Now, we offer this one last look at standout performers for York9 FC to bring a close to an exciting inaugural CPL campaign.
York9 FC collected a respectable bronze medal in the inaugural season of the Canadian Premier League.
Without a solid team core, like seen with Forge FC and Cavalry FC in Year 1, Jimmy Brennan and his staff went to work and built a solid lineup comprised mostly of local talent.
Pulling players from the most well-known soccer market in Canada wasn’t the most difficult task – it was putting them all together into a cohesive unit that was especially impressive.
Brennan found the winning formula in the later parts of the Fall season. Back-to-back 4-0 wins and earning tough results away to Pacific FC and FC Edmonton put the rest of the league on notice. Y9 were scoring, defending and controlling games the same way Forge and Cavalry had all season – it was just too little too late.
That being said, 2020 promises to be a continuation of that late-season run with many core pieces returning for York’s second CPL campaign.
Here are three York9 players that were above and beyond the best for their squad in 2019:
3 Key Performers for 2019
1. Ryan Telfer
Position: Left winger/centre forward/central midfield
Appearances (starts): 26 (24)
Minutes played: 2,216
Goals: 8 (2nd most on team)
Shots on target: 29
Tackles won: 36
Big Chances created: 7 (team-high)
Pass accuracy: 74.50%
First goalscorer in CPL history, first CPLer to score against an MLS side, first to score a home goal for York9 and, *breathe*, the first CPLer to score an international goal.
On loan from Toronto FC, Telfer was at the helm of some of the most exciting moments of York9 FC’s season – and some of Y9’s most well-executed attacking sequences. Good with a cross, a forward pass or a cunning finish, Telfer was a standout in all areas of the pitch for the Nine Stripes. As good at cutting in as taking the play to the wings, capable of scoring or creating – he had it all. Brennan’s side wouldn’t be anywhere without the goals Telfer created or scored.
Those flashes of brilliance were many: his blast against Montreal Impact, that inaugural goal against Forge, and the several more he scored on summer days at York Lions Stadium.
While his future with the club is uncertain since his deal with Toronto FC expired, Telfer will be a massive priority for Y9 in their first off-season.
What they said: “He’s developed a lot of confidence, and he knows he’s capable of not just competing, but excelling … You can see his chest is up and he’s very comfortable, and that he can make a difference.” – Greg Vanney, Toronto FC coach
2. Nathan Ingham
Appearances (starts): 26 (26)
Minutes played: 2,340
Saves: 89 (league-high)
Save %: 72.36% (team-high)
Clean sheets: 6 (team-high)
The first of two Awards 2019 nominees on this list, Nathan Ingham was one of the league’s top goalkeepers. The 26-year-old cemented that role right away – remember the inaugural game against Forge FC at Tim Hortons Field? Ingham put together a man of the match performance on the biggest stage.
Ingham built on that first match for a whirlwind season. Through 26 matches, the Keswick, Ont., native made a league-leading 89 saves – almost four per match – and held a respectable save percentage (72.36 per cent) through it all. Ingham was absolutely pelted in Year 1, and came out looking like a champ.
Ingham was also an underrated distributor of the ball. He averaged more successful passes per 90 minutes than any other goalkeeper (27.21) according to SportLogiq, feeding the likes of Diyaeddine Abzi with quick balls to keep the opposition on their toes.
What they said:“He was fantastic for us this season and we’re looking forward to working with him. When you build a club, you want a solid ‘keeper which have with Nate.” – Jimmy Brennan, York9 FC coach
3. Diyaeddine Abzi
Position: Left fullback
Appearances (starts): 24 (21)
Minutes played: 1,814
Assists: 4 (joint team-high)
Big Chances created: 6
Pass accuracy: 78.25%
The 21-year-old excelled in a tough position – and in a tough environment – with The Nine Stripes. He was a key cog that kept the motor running for Y9 through it all, providing much-needed width for the midfield, excellent balls into the forwards and standout defensive performances as a fullback.
The Quebecer sits in the top 10 per cent of CPL defenders in just about every “per 90 minutes” passing and defending category, including key passes, line-breaking passes, interceptions, blocked shots, and successful passes.
As a technical fullback with speed and great defensive ability, it’s easy to forget Abzi is just 21. His nomination for Best Canadian Under-21 of the Year at the 2019 CPL Awards was a good reminder, though.
What they said:“Right away once we started to put this team together, he was one of the first guys I went after … He’s got bags of potential, lots of energy, good size, can get up and down the line.” Jimmy Brennan, York9 FC coach