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The future of Toronto FC’s midfield lies in the hands of Jonathan Osorio

The 30-year-old homegrown talent has a very important decision to make this offseason, and one that may cost him the prized Toronto armband.

Jonathan Osorio in a 2-1 loss against Columbus Crew on June 29, 2022.
Sean Pollock/Waking the Red

Jonathan Osorio entered his tenth season with Toronto FC at the beginning of the year and the 30-year-old, homegrown talent, is the cultured veteran that TFC needs to bring the team back into the playoff picture. This offseason could prove to be a crucial one for Osorio as his contract is expiring and the Canadian also received an offer from Greek club Panathinaikos, to which he reportedly turned down. However, if Osorio decides to stay in the city he has called home all his life, perhaps a significant armband worn by current captain Michael Bradley will come into play.

Osorio has stepped up when called upon on numerous occasions and outside of Michael Bradley, his name has been the focal point of the midfield since his promotion to the senior team. No one better understands what it’s like to play for the BMO Field crowd as he has done so, not only with the senior team, but for the Canadian men’s national team too.

Jonathan Osorio holds the Canadian flag with fellow CMNT teammates at BMO Field in a post-game interview after a 4-0 Canada win over Jamaica on March 27, 2022.
Sean Pollock/Waking the Red

Michael Bradley’s contract will believably expire at the end of the 2023 season, and there’s no word yet on what this means for TFC’s current captain. Though, when the 35-year-old does decide to hang up his laces and theoretically go into coaching, TFC will need to hand off the armband to another individual who has a proven record of demonstrating leadership within the club. Moreover, it will have to be a conclusive decision from the head coach that will have a lasting impact going forward for the future of this club – this may be one of the many weighty conclusions Osorio shall bear in mind when deciding his future.

Osorio has been with the club for 10 years and has been to the MLS Cup Final three times in his professional career. He’s been with the Canadian national team since May 2013 and has scored seven goals in his international career. Osorio captained TFC ten times in 2020 during Michael’s absence. Essentially, Osorio is a proven leader, communicator, luminary and excels with his work rate on the field.


The backstory

Jonathan Osorio started his MLS career with a stellar rookie season where he recorded five goals in 28 games. In his first season, Osorio was just getting introduced to MLS and found the tools to develop into a first team player. He was given the minutes to grow and obviously that impressed the coaching staff to give him more chances. Osorio grew within the game and his performances always paved the way for improvement.

Osorio excelled to the top of his game during the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League run which saw TFC reach the final for the first time in franchise history. Osorio became the first MLS player to win the CONCACAF Champions League Golden Boot after leading the competition with four goals.


Qualities of a future TFC captain


Confidence

Osorio is a proven midfielder with the qualities to pass and find and start creative plays. He comes with great awareness of all players and an excellent vision for the attacking plays. Over the years, Osorio has demonstrated an extraordinary skill to take more risks with passes based on quick judgement and determining the final outcome. His keen eye is vital for a veteran midfielder looking for chances to create and continue the attack. Osorio really took an illustrious step in his career - most notably the stretch from the final game of the season to the 2017 MLS Cup Final, during which Osorio scored three goals in seven matches. In that period, Osorio’s confidence in front of goal visibly increased.

Osorio netted 10 goals in 30 starts during the 2018 MLS season, five goals in 24 games in 2019, and so far this season, found the back of the net nine times in 20 starts. Osorio’s goal scoring ability has significantly improved over the years and his eye and vision for setting up goals has also been a topic of discussion.


Leadership

In order to be named a team captain, one individual will stand out from the other players. That player demonstrates a strong sense of knowledge of the game and can turn the game around in an instant. We’ve seen previous TFC captains carry out plays and lead the line efficiently. There is no better example to lead the next generation of young TFC talent than Jonathan Osorio, an academy graduate nonetheless, which brings us to our next standout quality...


Inspiration to Younger Generation

We’ve seen the commercial. A young boy playing a young Jonathan Osorio who hopes to one day make it into the game of soccer, endlessly practicing in his bedroom scoring on a cardboard box with cutouts. That boy eventually becomes Jonathan Osorio as he looks into the fortress of BMO Field as a senior player for Toronto FC, with the message being, it’s never too early to dream big. The young talent coming through the TFC Academy has always been important by developing players for a future in soccer. With a boyhood dream like playing in front of your home crowd appear achievable, Osorio’s message is a strong one to help kids in the GTA find their calling.

Jonathan Osorio celebrates with teammates after he gives TFC the lead in the 75th minute of a 2-2 draw against San Jose on July 9, 2022.
Sean Pollock/Waking the Red

Communication

The captain needs to encourage and manage on-field communication between all the players, as well as maintaining effective communication both with players and between players and the coaching staff off of it. There’s no better example of a down-to-earth level-minded individual to guide this team with effective communication on or off the field than an established veteran like Jonathan Osorio. On the field, Osorio has a good relationship with fellow teammates and always intellectually identifies where to offload passes.


Work Rate

Although Osorio has dealt with a few injuries over the years, and more recently a head injury that kept him sidelined since the end of August, Osorio always finds a way to bounce back into the spotlight. Throughout the years, Osorio has been instrumental and a key member for the TFC family and his work rate has never switched off. In April of this year, Osorio made his 300th club appearance in all competitions for Toronto FC and is the longest tenured player to ever don the Red uniform.


Canadian International

Playing for his country has already paid dividends for Osorio, as he earned his first goal for country during a 2017 friendly against Bermuda. Osorio also recorded Canada’s first goal at Estadio Azteca since 1980 in a World Cup Qualifying game against Mexico in October 2021. Not to mention, qualifying for the World Cup may have been absurd to think about while he was younger, but earlier this year, Osorio and the Canadian men’s national soccer team did the unimaginable.

“As a Canadian kid, to dream of something like this was impossible, and to see it come to fruition is incredible. It’s a dream come true. I don’t know how else to explain it.”


Home Representation

Born in the GTA, Osorio has called Toronto his home all his life and is the longest serving homegrown talent that has continued to play for TFC. Nobody on the current squad knows more about this city than Osorio.

“I think what contributes to that kind of stat is the fact that I take it day to day. I try to improve every day and do my job every time that I go out on the field. This is my duty as a player for this club. More so as somebody who grew up here; I love this club. I think everybody here knows that every game I will give everything for us to win.”

Jonathan Osorio after scoring a goal in a 2-2 draw at BMO Field on July 9, 2022.
Sean Pollock/Waking the Red

This offseason, Osorio’s future could be one of a very important crucial decision. The 30-year-old, who had said this past year that he always dreams of playing in Europe, could be playing his last game in a TFC uniform in front of a TFC crowd on September 30th. His decade long tenure would fall just a season short of his senior team debut anniversary. Should he choose to stay, Osorio could find himself wearing the captain’s armband in the near future and lead this new generation of talent back into the playoff picture.

No matter what Osorio decides, Toronto FC will always be his home.