Nestled in the warren of warehouses and makeshift parking lots just north of BMO Field there looms a face.
Black and white, a few feet tall, plastered to the side of one of the billboard supports, the image of Jonathan Osorio looks in the direction of the pitch he has graced for nearly a decade. It isn’t quite a smile, though there is joy there. It is more a look of anticipation, perhaps the beginning of a roar forming on the lips.
A couple hundred metres away in the BMO Club the man himself pledged his future to Toronto FC.
“This is a special day for my family and I,” said Osorio on Tuesday morning. “Everybody knows that I love this club very much and I've worked really hard to get to where I am. I've earned my place here, earned everything that I've gotten, and now I want to give more.”
“I want to give more to this club and throughout these four years bring the success back,” he continued. “That's one of the big reasons that I wanted to stay. The last couple years have been hard and I want to be part of the resurgence. I'm really looking forward to that.”
The club announced on Monday that the 30-year-old midfielder had inked a new three-year-plus-option TAM deal that could see him with the club through 2026.
The all-time appearance leader with 318 matches under his belt in all competitions, third on the all-time scoring list with 58 goals, behind only Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, Osorio embodies so much of what has TFC stands for and this contract takes him one step closer to becoming a one club man for his hometown side.
“It's an honor; it's a privilege,” he replied when asked about that mantle. “Not many players around the world get to say that they played for their hometown club for so many years. I know how blessed I am to say that.”
“To say that I’m a ‘one club player’ I’ve still got work to do to make sure that that's the case, but that's my aim now,” Osorio continued. “And that's a huge goal to reach for. To be a one club player in this day means that you have to keep your value up during that time and that's a challenge, that's what I keep striving to do.”
TFC President Bill Manning called Osorio “a legacy player”.
“When I first arrived at this club, he was a young player fighting for minutes and he's turned into an incredibly important part of Toronto FC and is the essence of Toronto FC in a lot of ways,” he continued. “So proud of him – the player he’s become, the man he’s become – and we look forward to him being one of our leaders on the field as we go into World Cup 2026.”
TFC Head Coach Bob Bradley greeted Osorio with a big hug.
“It's a really exciting day for the club. I don't need to tell you, you've seen him from the beginning, with his play on the field, his leadership, he's been an instrumental part of the successes that TFC has had over the years,” began the coach. “Last year getting to work with him was a lot of fun. He's a smart player, he picks up ideas, when we think about the good football that we want to play Oso found a way to be in the middle of it so often.”
“Finding the right positions, making the right passes, his timing for getting into the box, scoring goals is something that has not only been important for TFC, but has really helped the Canadian National Team,” Bradley added. “Having a great player like Oso around for a few more years is a really important statement for what we want to accomplish going forward.”
Much like when he last re-signed for TFC in 2018 there were rumours of interest elsewhere in his services. Earlier this year Osorio made it clear that he would wait until after the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar to make his decision.
“I didn't want it to be a big thing before the World Cup. I didn't want it to be something about me when such a big thing was happening for our country. I wanted to wait for that decision to be made,” he explained. “Things happened during the World Cup and it became clear that for my family, for myself, this is where I needed to be and where I wanted to be.”
Osorio said that conversation with his family while in Doha made his choice plain.
“Throughout the negotiations [the club] showed that they value me a lot and that they wanted me here. I kept my options open and speaking with my family is when it became clear that my story here is what's important,” he said. “I had the dream to go to Europe, but in the end it presented itself that it was best for everybody that I was here in Toronto and being successful at this club.”
“The way the last two years have gone it would have been a little bit sour leaving. I'm excited for what's to come in the future of this club,” Osorio smiled. “For me, it felt like it was my destiny – no matter what I wanted or whatever presented itself – I felt like it was my destiny to stay here.”
The last few pandemic influenced years have been tough. Toronto was forced to relocate through 2020 and most of 2021 to play. Last season saw a return to BMO Field for good, but it was a season of foundation laying, the first under Bradley’s steady eye.
Osorio flourished, his nine goals and four assists in MLS were just shy of his career year in 2018 (ten goals and six assists) despite making just 23 appearances. Post-concussion symptoms hampered the end of the campaign and put his World Cup at risk, but he found a way back in time and impressed with Canada in Qatar.
The Canadian men’s side being at the World Cup for the first time in 36 years was a touchstone moment for the sport in this country. It was a shot in the arm, bringing new eyes to the game and rejuvenating the long toiling.
And the anticipation of co-hosting duties in 2026 will only increase that visibility more and more.
“The World Cup was amazing. It opened my eyes,” said Osorio. “I’ve played here my whole career, not really had the chance to play against players at that level. Now I got to experience that and really feel it. It was interesting to see how far or close I was from that level, but now I have that feeling and now I feel like no matter where you are, you can train to be at that level.”
“It motivated me to be better here and to bring that here to Toronto,” he continued. “There's lots of players you see making the jump, but I think to grow the sport here, there's got to be some players that stay here and grow it here.”
“Maybe that's my calling. That's what I'm going to do,” Osorio added. “I’m going to still strive to be at that level, but doing that here in Toronto.”
Osorio’s career has been one of dogged determination. It earned him a place with the first team back in 2013. It earned him minutes on the pitch through good times and bad. It earned him a key place with the national team throughout qualification and at the World Cup.
Motivation has never been a problem and it won’t be going forward.
“I've never been more motivated for a lot of reasons,” said Osorio. “But the one more than anything else is just to win, to now be a really big part of the success of this club.”
“In the past, I think I played my part and I had my role and I think I played well and I was able to show that I was able to take on more every year,” he continued. “I'm at the point where I'm ready to take a really big role and be a vital part of everything that goes on here.”
In what is expected to be a busy off-season, Osorio’s re-signing was the first domino to drop. He issued a call-to-arms to those thinking of joining his club.
“To play for Toronto FC is a big privilege; it's a big responsibility as well,” said Osorio. “You have to perform. You have to do everything within the week to prepare yourself to get the three points on the weekend.”
“It's a club that prides itself on being the best. They want to be the best, always. There’s a big responsibility in that. It's not for everyone,” he continued with a hint of steel in his eye. “When you come to Toronto it's the best. As long as you put in the work, it’s the best place to be.”