TORONTO – There is a truth about Toronto FC’s 2014 season that might have been overlooked at year’s end.
Despite missing the playoffs yet again in the club’s eighth season, Toronto FC enjoyed their strongest year yet in MLS, picking up club-best numbers in wins (11), points (41) and goals (44). It’s this hidden truth that TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio highlighted earlier this month during the team’s post-season news conferences, a season the Canadian international pointed to as a building block for future success in Major League Soccer.
“I think [this season] was a big jump from last year,” Osorio said. “I mean, we were last place last year, and this year we were fighting for a playoff spot. I think the club is heading in the right direction. People are looking at this season as a failure mainly just because of the potential that we had on our team and everything like that. For that, they call it a failure because we didn’t make the playoffs – but if you really look at it at the end, we made a step forward.”
Osorio is a local guy, born and raised in Toronto. He says that while the pressure to make the playoffs in his hometown was ramped up this season with TFC's signings of multiple high-profile players, a year of team-building was a necessary step.
“When you look at the beginning of the season, everybody did think the same thing,” Osorio said. “We looked around the change room and said, ‘OK, this is a team that can go really far. People expect us to go really far.’ We just forgot that it was a totally different team. It takes time for a team to really start gelling and to start having good chemistry in order to become a championship team or a playoff-contending team.”
Osorio said the urgency for the players to perform increases with every passing year TFC misses out on the postseason.
“When you come to this club, you have a pressure,” Osorio said. “It’s because they [the fans] deserve a lot better than what they’ve been given, or what we’ve been trying to give them. That’s the only real pressure.
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“When things start to crumble a little bit, maybe, that’s when you start thinking about the past,” he continued. “We’ll go down two goals early in the game, and the stadium will just drop. You can feel that pressure. Some games we were able to come out of it, and some games we weren’t. There’s a pressure to make the playoffs.”
Despite the 2-8-3 finish that caused Toronto to miss the postseason, Osorio sees plenty of potential in the club for next season, too.
“Now it’s about keeping the team together and forming a foundation so that in the years coming, we’ll be contending for championships,” he said. “We put a big chip on our shoulders at the beginning of the year. At the same time, we could have done better. But we took a step forward.”