The differences from when he broke into the Canadian national team and now are stark, but Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio loves what he sees from the national team setup and a young, promising crop of players participating in January camp.
“I love it. I wish it was like this eight years ago,” he told reporters. “But I’m happy with the way it is now. I’m very excited, The development has come a long way in this country. And it shows every time. Every January camp, it gets better. ”
The 28-year-old Osorio has 34 caps for the CanMNT since his first camp in March 2013. Under the direction of head coach John Herdman, this camp has several first-time call-ups, including Tajon Buchanan of the New England Revolution, Cristian Gutierrez from the Vancouver Whitecaps, Nashville SC fullback Alistair Johnston, CF Montreal defender Joel Waterman, Minnesota United goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair and Osorio’s Toronto teammates Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty and Ralph Priso.
“Very very exciting players, players that belong on the pitch with the veteran players and all the better players,” Osorio said. “These young players are making a case to be a part of the full men’s team as well.”
More than half of the players in the camp are eligible for Canada’s Olympic team. It’s a big year ahead for the program, with Canada trying to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 1984 and 20 grueling qualifying matches to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Canada last competed in the World Cup in 1986 and the lone Concacaf Gold Cup trophy came in 2000.
“We’re still trying to make an imprint on world football, in Concacaf and in the world,” said Osorio. “We’re still developing as a team. We have now the talent there. So, of course, we can’t waste it. We know this. We’re well aware of this. But we’re more excited about it than anything.”
“These things are possible now,” Osorio added. “These things are not out of reach.”