Jonathan Osorio, enjoying a career year, has elected to stay with Toronto FC rather than test the waters outside Major League Soccer.
The 26-year-old midfielder from Brampton, Ont., signed a new long-term deal with Toronto, that will make him “one of the highest-paid Canadian players in the world,” according to team president Bill Manning. His existing contract was to expire at the end of the 2018 season.
For TFC, it’s another key player kept in the fold. No. 1 goalkeeper Alex Bono signed a new deal in June and the team has also awarded Victor Vazquez, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow and Eriq Zavaleta with new deals this year.
Osorio, rested in Wednesday’s night 2-0 loss in Portland, has been arguably the team MVP this season with 16 goals in all competitions
But at US$209,825, he ranked 13th on the 2018 Toronto payroll (14th if you count Ager Aketxe who is currently on loan in his native Spain), according to the MLS Players Association.
Orlando’s Will Johnson is currently the highest-paid Canadian in MLS at US$470,000. Osorio’s new deal, which kicks in next season, beats that “by a good margin,” according to a source.
“It means so much to me ... Honestly I’m really happy that we got this done. I’m really happy that I’m going to be home,” Osorio told a news conference Thursday at TFC’s training ground.
“I’ve worked really hard to be at this point, to make it to this point. Saying that, I’m not done. There’s a lot that I want to accomplish and there’s a lot I that want to accomplish for Toronto, for the city, for the fans and for this team.”
Osorio marked his 200th game in all competitions with TFC on Aug. 15 in Toronto’s 5-2 second-leg win over the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship final. Toronto won 7-4 on aggregate to raise the Voyageurs Trophy for a seventh time with Osorio awarded the George Gross Memorial Trophy as tournament MVP after scoring three goals in four games.
Osorio also won the Golden Boot award as top scorer in the CONCACAF Champions League this year with four goals.
In league play this season, Osorio is second in team scoring with nine goals and third in assists with five. He has played 1,983 minutes, second only to captain Michael Bradley’s 2,137.
“It’s well-documented and noted that he’s having a phenomenal season,” Toronto coach Greg Vanney said after the Canadian Championship triumph. “I think it’s well-deserved, I think it’s earned.
“I think every single year, he’s continued to work his tail off to progress his game, to add things to his game, to grow. And I think he’s working into his prime now as a player and you can see all these things are coming together. He’s having a phenomenal year.
“To be fair he’s played a big part of all our wins, all of our big matches this year ... You can’t say enough about the year’s he’s having.”
Osorio’s future has been the subject of speculation this season. He has made no secret of his desire to test himself at the highest level. But he also feels at home here.
“I don’t know if it’s the right time, to be honest,” he said when asked in July about the possibility of moving on. “And I don’t know if it’s going to be that simple that I wake up one morning and know it’s the time (to move on). If it comes, it will come when it’s supposed to.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just know I’m here now and I’m happy here in Toronto. So we’ll see.”
Toronto won out at the end, although Osorio may get another chance to shine elsewhere down the line.
Osorio can count himself as one of the few Canadians to score at famed Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, where he slotted in a goal against Club America (Brian Robinson and Gerry Gray scored there in World Cup qualifying play in 1972 and 1980, respectively).
The quick-footed midfielder has a talent for getting himself in the right place at the right time, with the vision and acceleration required to get there. He has also forged a profitable rapport with Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco. He can also be a terrier-like defender.
On the international front, he has 20 caps for Canada.
Osorio credits time as a teenager at Club Nacional in Montevideo, Uruguay, for helping harden him — and further his passion for the sport.
He spent two years in Uruguay, starting in the under-19 ranks before making his way into the reserves before deciding to return home at the end of 2011. That led to an invitation from the TFC academy in September 2012.
Former manager Ryan Nelsen liked what he saw of Osorio at training camp in 2013 and the young midfielder went on to see action in 28 league games that year.