TORONTO – Asserting himself in Toronto FC's midfield and putting a string of bothersome injuries behind him, Jonathan Osorio looks like he’s hitting his stride once more down the final stretch of the season.
Osorio was a standout in Toronto’s 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire last weekend and his role as a pinched left midfielder has the young Canadian right in the thick of things, creating chances, taking shots on goal and getting more and more involved in TFC's buildup play.
It’s been a long time coming for Osorio, too, as he has been in and out of the team sheet with recurring injuries.
“I’m getting there, I’m getting there,” Osorio told MLSsoccer.com, when asked how he’s feeling about his personal play in recent days. “It was a slow start but after the World Cup break, I’ve slowly gotten back in form and I think I’ve played really well in the last few games and shown the potential that I can reach.
“I don’t think I’m at my best yet, but it’s coming.”
Osorio was a revelation for TFC last season and is showing signs of hitting that same form once again. In 2013, he scored five goals in 18 matches. This season, he’s netted twice but despite his positive performance, Toronto's draw with Chicago – which came at the last minute after leading 2-1 – is the kind of result that Osorio says his side is trying to avoid.
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“The first thing that comes to mind is, like, how is that going to affect us in the table, how is that going to affect our playoff chances?” Osorio toldMLSsoccer.com. “These are the kind of games that, in the end, could come back to haunt you, so hopefully that’s not the case.”
Toronto FC are in unfamiliar territory, sitting third in the Eastern Conference heading into the final stretch of the season.
But for many of their players, being in a playoff place isn’t the only new experience; merely being in the league is, too. With a mix of European, Brazilian and North American talent, the search for cohesion and consistency has repeatedly prompted TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen to call for patience.
“With any organization, when you’re at the bottom – which this club has been for many years – to build towards the top, it requires patience,” Osorio said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. I definitely would echo that. And sooner than later, the team will be where it wants to be.”
But that process, Osorio says, isn’t always easy.
“Of course it’s hard being patient,” Osorio said. “You want results right away, you want success right away. But most times in life, that’s not the way it works. You have to work at it and that takes time.
“Playoffs have been the No. 1 objective of this team from the beginning,” Osorio added. “We’re always thinking about the playoffs, it’s always in our heart and we’re always positive. We always think that it will happen. We just need to grind out a lot of results towards the end of the year but with the games we have, it’s in our favor to do so.”