Osorio Warmup

Osorio Ready to Battle for Club and Country

TORONTO – There is only one ball and so many minutes to go around.

Much has been made of Toronto FC's vaunted depth this season, but for the coaching staff, that presents a problem: keeping everyone sharp and engaged.

“Everybody is hungry,” said Greg Vanney at the start of June. “Every time I tell somebody they're not going to start, or be in the eighteen, it's a battle; they all want to play.”

That competition is particularly fierce in midfield, where Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez, Marky Delgado, Jonathan Osorio, Armando Cooper, Jay Chapman, Benoit Cheyrou, Tsubasa Endoh, and Sergio Camargo are all jostling for three places.

“It's competitive,” smiled Osorio in May. “I like it.”

Past the half-way point in the season, Osorio's minutes (501) are well-off the pace of a career season set in 2016 where he amassed 2440. But with the playoff race about to heat up when MLS resumes next week, Osorio, once he returns from international duty, will be a factor. He started five of TFC's six playoff matches last season and scored two crucial goals, against the Philadelphia Union and New York City FC, en route to the MLS Cup Final.

Osorio has one goal and two assists this year, though when he netted, against Columbus Crew SC on May 26, there was little celebration. It wasn't that it was the fourth in a 5-0 rout. 

“I enjoy every minute, but I don't want to celebrate just one goal,” explained Osorio a few days later. “I have high expectations for myself; other people do as well. It's been hard this first half of the season. I look at the positives: people expect more, meaning they look at me highly. It's about getting into form, training hard every day, and things will start happening.”

His is a fighting spirit that has many origins.

“Growing up in a house with two brothers [Anthony and Nicholas, of TFC II and TFC III, respectively] that were very close in age, we're all very competitive,” suggested Osorio. “I was born always trying to be the best at what I do... every time. The higher you get in level, the harder it is. I welcome that; I enjoy that challenge. I want to keep going. To be the best doesn't happen overnight.”

His time with Nacional's youth program in Uruguay was a factor as well.

“In Uruguay the hunger to play, to do the extra things to win a game,” recalled Osorio. “It's a very physical game [there]. Since I came back, I've lost a little bit of that. I [need to keep] reminding myself, to re-find that; that will be another add to my game. The passion they instilled for football, that will never go away. I love football. I'll do anything to win.”

As was his Colombian heritage.

“It's [a] very similar, South American attitude,” noted Osorio. “So many good things are happening with the country, the national team. I'm happy to see that. I grew up in a very Colombian house. Yes, in Canada, but like most Canadian households, the culture inside was [reflective of our heritage]. I take that with me everywhere I go.”

Osorio brings that passion back to the Canadian National Team, as he is currently with the squad for the 2017 Gold Cup under new coach, Octavio Zambrano.

Zambrano wants that drive in his side; wants them to play with no fear. And though Osorio is yet to feature – so too for his Toronto teammate, Raheem Edwards – Tosaint Ricketts was a second half substitute in Canada's 1-1 draw with Costa Rica on Tuesday night.

With so much on the line, the stage is set for Osorio to make his mark. Zambrano's approach suits the 25-year old midfielder well.

“We have a lot of attacking quality,” said Osorio of Canada following the 2-1 win over Curacao in the lead up to the tournament. “We just need someone to believe in us. [Zambrano does]; wants us to be free and not be afraid to attack teams. That makes me happy, I really like to attack.”