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Toronto FC’s Jonathan Osorio impresses in first start in three months

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The midfielder earned the praise of Greg Vanney after a very tidy display.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Just a brief one before we turn our attention to those guys waiting on Sunday.

We suspected either Jonathan Osorio or Armando Cooper might get a rare - and vital - chance to start on Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Union and it was the Canadian that got the nod - and deservedly so on the back of some strong displays as a substitute.

Happily, Osorio did exactly what he needed to do.

He took care of the ball superbly, completing a remarkable 50 of his 52 attempted passes - the highest success rate of any player on the night.

He twisted and turned out of trouble and ensured there was a regular passage for the ball through to Victor Vazquez, who was - yet again - the most influential player in the game.

Osorio found Vazquez, who then found Sebastian Giovinco, in the build-up to the Italian’s latest masterpiece with the dead ball.

He cut out an attempted Union clearance and laid a quick pass into Jozy Altidore to help design the third, with Vazquez providing the assist again.

Osorio even played a supporting role in Nicolas Hasler’s second goal, drifting to the left to pull Alejandro Bedoya out of his central-midfield position and create the space for Vazquez to receive a pass and play in Altidore.

Altidore was fouled, Giovinco’s free-kick deflected off the wall for a corner and Hasler made it 2-0 from Vazquez’s delivery.

Playing like this, Osorio becomes a very useful option for Toronto. He may not be in the starting lineup very often when the Reds revert to 3-5-2, but he could now be the first man off the bench.

Are Toronto leading? Get Osorio on to keep the ball and the opposition chasing it.

Need a goal? Swap a defender for the 25-year-old and possession should move through the midfield to Toronto’s danger men more efficiently.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

“I thought he was excellent tonight,” Greg Vanney said afterwards. “He played how he’s been playing in training, he played how he’s been playing when he’s come on to games the last few games.

“He’s so comfortable with the ball and wiggling and spinning, and he’s mobile and he finds good spots, so when we added another midfielder and we were talking about the group being reliable with the ball, he’s a guy who gets the nod for us.

“I think the addition of Victor out there means sometimes Oso doesn’t have to be the guy who plays the final ball all the time. We leave that to Victor, and Oso at the right times and Marky [Delgado] at the right times.

“It takes a little bit of that burden [to play the key pass away] and he can be what he is, which is an outstanding possession-oriented player, and move the game around and move defenders around.”

Before Wednesday, Osorio had not started a game since May 10 in Columbus, when he was substituted shortly after half-time (due to illness, if I remember correctly).

His most recent start before that had been that game against Sporting Kansas City.

He has now played 201 minutes since coming off at Mapfre Stadium and Toronto have a 9-1 goal differential while he has been on the field.

Score effects play a part in that, of course, but at a bare minimum it illustrates that he is certainly not doing any harm when he has been called upon.