Toronto FC's Will Johnson pleads with Jonathan Osorio - April 2016

HAMILTON, Bermuda – Will Johnson and Jonathan Osorio saw plenty of action for Toronto FC in a memorable 2016 season and playoff run that culminated with their hosting of the MLS Cup last December.


But with the national team, it was another story.


Osorio only returned in October after being omitted by former head coach Benito Floro since the 2015 Gold Cup. Osorio was behind the likes of Atiba Hutchinson and Scott Arfield on the depth chart, and Floro felt that Osorio wasn’t contributing enough in attacking midfield, saying, “he has to take advantage [of his playing time] to create more chances and to score more goals.”


Now both men have a fresh start in 2017.


“Last year didn’t start off well, obviously,” Osorio told MLSsoccer.com of his involvement, or lack thereof, in Canada's 2016. “I hadn’t been with the national team in a while and then finally at the end I was getting my chance again. This is a fresh start, like you said. I’m only thinking in this game right now and then we’ll go from there and see what happens.”


Johnson hasn’t suited up for Canada since last March and was omitted from last September’s squad, where Canada were eliminated from World Cup qualifying, with Floro saying he felt Johnson hadn’t fully recovered from a leg fracture. Johnson – who moved from TFC to Orlando City this winter – disputed that assessment, but the coach made the decision to omit Johnson from the roster nonetheless.


Canada have brought a young squad in to take on minnows Bermuda on Sunday (2 pm ET; streamed live on CanadaSoccer.com) and though they’re only just making their respective returns to the national program, the duo are being relied upon to shoulder the responsibilities of leadership.


“They’re very valuable,” said interim head coach Michael Findlay after Canada wrapped up training on Saturday morning. “It’s Oso’s time to start to identify himself as a key member of this group. He’s also there to provide that guidance to some of the younger players to see that guy who came through the system and is now going to be part of a program. [Johnson’s] experience and demands that he puts on himself and the team are key for people to learn and mirror those images.”


Canada are still looking for a full-time coach, so 2017 is very much a fresh start for two players looking to become regulars for both club and country.