Former soccer Lions make a big splash on the biggest stage

The York University Lions men’s soccer team has been one of the pre-eminent programs in U SPORTS over the last decade, and now a pair of former players are making a big splash at the next level.

Mark-Anthony Kaye and Ryan Telfer have both become regular starters in Major League Soccer (MLS), two of only a small number of former U SPORTS players to have earned spots on teams at the highest level of professional soccer in North America, and in recent weeks both of them have had tremendous impacts on their club teams.

Telfer spent two seasons with the Lions and was an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) all-star and U SPORTS tournament all-star in 2016, plays for his hometown Toronto FC and has started four games this season, including each of the last two. On May 25th, the 24-year-old midfielder scored the first goal of his career with a gorgeous finish in the 87th minute for the game winner to give TFC a 2-1 victory over Orlando and a crucial three points in the standings.

The goal was part of an overall impressive performance on the night that earned him a spot on the MLS Team of the Week for Week 12 and the Audi Player Index Performance of the Week.

Telfer’s selection to the Team of the Week marked the second week in a row that a former Lion found his way there as Kaye was on the Week 11 squad. The 23-year-old midfielder has started all 11 games for the second-place Los Angeles Football Club and scored the first goal of his career in a 2-0 victory over Minnesota on May 9. He also has two assists this season.

Kaye, from Toronto, also spent two years with the Lions, earning the OUA rookie of the year award in 2012 and OUA first-team all-star and U SPORTS second-team all-Canadian honours in 2013. Since leaving York, he spent four years in the United Soccer League (USL) with Wilmington, Toronto FC II and Louisville, and he’s also played for the Canadian senior national team.

Lions head coach Carmine Isacco, a six-time OUA West coach of the year and leader of the program since 2007, has a remarkable track record of bringing elite talent to York. His players have been named the MVP of the OUA West Division eight times in 11 years, and under his guidance the team has won five OUA titles and four national championships. The success of Kaye and Telfer in MLS is just another example of the tremendous work he has done with the Lions.