Buoyed by Europe stints, Toronto FC's Jonathan Osorio hopes to hold his own among star cast

Toronto FC's Jonathan Osorio

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USA Today sports

TORONTO – Much has been made recently about Toronto FC's improvement thanks to a handful of high-profile signings, but with the Reds maxed out on Designated Players it is more than likely that any further improvements will instead come via the progression of rising young players.

Fresh off an impressive rookie campaign, Homegrown midfielder Jonathan Osorio is a prime example of the type of player TFC will be turning to. And he did not rest on his laurels over the offseason as he continued to work on developing his game in the soccer-crazed nations of England and Germany.

Osorio spent a week each with English Championship side Huddersfield Town and the Bundesliga’s Werder Bremen.

“I learned a lot [with both clubs],” Osorio explained. “England was a style of play where it was faster, more physical and played with a lot of long balls. Whereas in Germany it was a lot of technical play and just movement and using players around you with short balls. It was a good experience in both countries and I learned a lot and hope to apply what I learned in the season coming up.”

Osorio trained with the first team at Huddersfield and was with the reserves mostly at Werder Bremen, but he did also get in a few training sessions with first-team players there as well. By his own estimation, he more than held his own.

“I definitely thought that I did well,” Osorio said. “I’m at the level of the players in both of those countries.”

More importantly than the technical education he received, Osorio admitted his first exposure to European clubs did wonders for his confidence as he heads into what he hopes will be a breakthrough season for both him and his hometown club.

“I aspire to play in one of the big leagues one day,” he said, “and it gave me a lot of confidence to see that I’m not far off. I do still have a bit of a ways to go, but I’m going to work hard to keep improving every year.”

The 21-year-old midfielder’s ongoing education and development will now continue in MLS while sharing a locker room and pitch with new veteran teammates such as Dwayne De Rosario, Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe.

In Osorio’s estimation, being around players of that class and experience will only help him and the other young players on TFC’s roster.

“When you play with great players, you can only improve,” Osorio added. “Good players play better with other good players. Those really good players are the ones that just by being there improve everybody else on the team. I’m very excited to play with these players and I’m sure I can only improve by training with them every day.”