TORONTO – This season, a torch was passed from one local hero to another.
Since the club's birth, Dwayne De Rosario has held a special place at Toronto FC.
In 98 matches over three-plus seasons, the Scarborough native scored 33 goals in all-competitions to top the all-time list for goals scored by a Canadian in club history.
Since then, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, each adored in their own way, have filled their boots for the Reds, but a new Canadian scoring threat had yet to emerge.
Enter Jonathan Osorio and his breakout 2018 season.
It began in the Concacaf Champions League, where Osorio scored four goals, one in each round, including that lovely back-heel against Tigres UANL, and won the Golden Boot as top-scorer in the tournament, becoming the first MLS player to earn that recognition.
That form carried on into the regular season where Osorio accumulated career numbers: 10 goals – doubling his previous best – and 7 assists – equalling his high mark from 2015. He also scored in three of the four matches of the Canadian Championship, en route to lifting a third-straight Voyageurs Cup.
On September 15 against the LA Galaxy, he scored his 34th goal for TFC, the one that pushed him past De Rosario on the all-time chart.
“Fantastic,” said Dwayne De Rosario at the opening of training camp for the Mississauga MetroStars of the MASL, where he is lacing up his boots and beginning his managerial career as a player/assistant coach alongside fellow former Reds Adrian Cann, Mo Babouli, and Anthony Osorio, one of Jonathan's younger brothers. “I've always known that he had the ability in him; pushed him to take the initiative.”
The two played together in 2014, Osorio's second season and De Rosario's last.
“Where he was in good scoring chances, he would look to pass, look for other options,” recalled De Rosario of the young Osorio. “This year he really took the initiative, took the onus, put the team on his back.”
“I'm proud of him,” added De Rosario. “Not surprised because I always knew he had the potential to become the player he is today.”
That encouragement was vocalized in the season they played together.
“Just yelling at him, saying, 'Take the chance,'” smiled De Rosario. “Always being on top of him, even this year, saying, 'Take the shot; Why didn't you take the shot there?' It's good to see him playing with that confidence.”
Osorio said passing his former teammate was “an honour.”
“De Ro: a very good player; a great mentor of mine. To pass him is an honour; means a lot,” said Osorio. “It took me a long time. It's something I'm grateful for.”
“I hope, honestly, the record doesn't last long,” continued Osorio.
“I hope the next kid that comes takes a lot less time to break it than I did,” added Osorio, who needed 204 matches to reach his tally. “For now, it's great to have it. Those records are fine, but this is a team sport; I'm here to win team trophies.”
“Humble” is how De Rosario described Osorio's reaction.
“He's a good kid, very grounded; has a good family support structure,” said De Rosario. “It just shows how he is as a young man and developing the game.”
And with the news that Osorio signed a new long-term contract with the club, he will be in Toronto for the foreseeable future.
“TFC did the right thing,” noted De Rosario. “Recognizing his ability, his body of work, and hopefully [he can] continue to build on that, work towards some more special moments and help our national team to success.”
With that new deal came a substantial pay raise, but Osorio will not be indulging himself in this longer than expected quiet period. His work has only just begun.
“I have to stay humble,” dismissed Osorio at the thought. “This offseason will be preparing myself for what is to come.”
“Yes, I got a pay raise, but that just means higher expectations,” continued Osorio. “It gets harder and I'm prepared for that. Years ago when I didn't score in five games, it was OK, nobody would ask me, 'Why aren't you scoring?' But if next year I don't: 'What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you, Jonathan?'”
“That's good,” added Osorio. “That means I'm getting better. I have to prove to people that think this was just of a one-off. I'll be ready to make sure that doesn't happen.”