TORONTO – When a football team is in the midst a significant winless streak, it can often be hard for the supporters of a struggling club to see the silver linings inherent in so many disappointing results.
But youngster and Toronto native Jonathan Osorio was the standout performer again on Saturday for Toronto FC, scoring the club’s only goal in a 1-1 draw against Philadelphia and further cementing himself as an intriguing option for head coach Ryan Nelsen in a time of need.
“It was a fantastic performance,” Nelsen said of Osorio. “It was a lovely goal, a really well-taken goal. Again, he is maturing so quickly as well and it is so good for Canadian football and the Canadian national team that you’ve got a player who is showing the maturity that he has at such a young age. He has a little swagger about him and he is also one of the nicest guys and most hardworking players on the team.”
A natural central midfielder, Osorio played in a wide role on Saturday and his effective play on the right side in combination with the fine play of natural left winger Bobby Convey was one of the reasons that TFC delivered probably their finest performance of the season with respect to possession and ball movement.
“I feel very comfortable out there and I feel like I have a lot of time on the ball and a lot of space to cut into the middle,” said Osorio, whose three goals are second on the team behind Robert Earnshaw. “Whatever way I can help the team. If I have to play 'keeper, I will play there. I’m comfortable on the side and hopefully I can keep helping the team playing out there.
"Having 70 percent of the possession before [Doniel Henry’s 41st-minute red card], that’s amazing. Those are stats you see from Barcelona.”
In addition to pairing up with Convey to give TFC excellent width, Osorio’s performance also provided supporters with insight into the future possibilities of core midfield trio of young, mobile and technically proficient players who all play the game with a Latin mindset.
The 20-year-old Osorio, who played during some of his formative years with the youth team for storied Uruguayan club Nacional, looked quite comfortable linking up with Luis Silva (24) and Matías Laba (21).
“We all play the same kind of style of football, so that helps,” Osorio said. “We have the same mentality and we are good friends. You always play the best with your friends. Everybody here, we are all friends, but I guess with us speaking Spanish, we do try to keep Laba feeling welcome here and comfortable. We’re connecting well and I hope we can keep doing that.”
Ultimately, while his style of play is rooted somewhat in South America, Osorio’s heart is with the city of Toronto through and through. Thus, the Hogtown native isn’t dreaming of the future goals he is going to score, he is looking forward to the time when Toronto break through and start turning all of their impressive performances into wins.
“It’s going to be a dream come true,” Osorio said. “What more could you ask for – living at home and winning with your club? Once that happens – and it will happen one day – it will be a very happy moment in my life.”