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Canada's Jonathan Osorio (left) fights for the ball against Jamaica's Je-Vaughn Watson during the first half of their international friendly soccer game Saturday September 2, 2017 in Toronto.Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press

After scoring for Canada in front of the red wave of hard core fans in BMO Field's south stand, Jonathan Osorio celebrated by sinking to his knees and throwing his arms in the air.

"I saw a lot of familiar faces in the stands there, that I see every Toronto FC home game, so it was a little extra special for me to get a goal here," Osorio said.

The 25-year-old TFC midfielder believes he accomplished more than just scoring in Saturday's 2-0 friendly win over Jamaica, he turned a career corner.

With 141 career MLS games (105 starts) over five seasons for TFC, Osorio is a well-established member of coach Greg Vanney's league-leading squad. But starts have been hard to come by this season for the local boy.

While Osorio has seen action in 20 of 27 games this year, he has only started five. Compare that with 26 regular-season starts in 2015-16, and 24 in 2014.

The main reason has been a shortage of openings in the midfield given Toronto's preferred 3-5-2 formation. With Justin Morrow, Steven Beitashour and Nicolas Hasler vying for the two outside wingback positions and captain Michael Bradley and Spanish play maker Victor Vazquez automatic selections, that only leaves one spot.

And Marky Delgado has made that his own, starting 18 games this season. An energetic, direct player, Delgado keeps the ball moving and can help unlock defences with his passing.

Prior to the Aug. 23 game against Philadelphia when Toronto came out in a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond midfield, Osorio had not started for TFC since May 10 in Columbus.

Osorio has been hard on himself in the past, be it for missed opportunities in front of goal or pondering his place in the TFC scheme. The club hasn't helped at times, shunting him down the depth chart.

He is not alone. Dislodging a starter on a 16-3-8 team that is rolling in high gear isn't easy.

Osorio, selected to start against Jamaica by Canada coach Octavio Zambrano, prized the win on home turf. But he clearly took positives from his own performance.

"This year, a lot of people have been talking about my [playing] minutes and stuff like that," he said. "All that went out the window for me today. Today was a chance to me to show what I can do.

"I've never stopped believing in myself and I know my ability. My teammates know my ability."

Unlike former national team coach Benito Floro, Zambrano is a believer – although he acknowledged having a talk with Osorio during the July Gold Cup about clarifying his role.

Prior to acquiring Vazquez, Toronto was searching for a play maker with Osorio among those asked to help create or score goals. Rather than using Osorio – who has 14 career MLS goals as well as two for Canada – as an attacking midfielder, Zambrano sees him as a two-way link player.

Vanney agrees, given his comments after the recent Philadelphia game.

"The addition of Victor out there means that, sometimes, [Osorio] doesn't have to be the guy who plays the final ball," Vanney told reporters in praising Osorio's performance. "We leave that to Victor … It takes a little bit of that burden and he can be what he is, which is an outstanding possession-oriented player, and move the game around and move defenders around."

Osorio likes the role.

"I think both coaches see me as a [No.] 8. I'm happy to be a [No. 8]. I like to help on both ends. I think defensively I put myself in good positions to help my teammates win the ball back."

In many ways, Osorio is a study in perseverance.

While a native of Brampton, Ont., he has travelled a long way to get where he is today.

He spent two years at Club Nacional in Montevideo, Uruguay, thanks to an entree to the club via coach Jorge Amura at the Clarkson Sheridan Soccer Club in suburban Mississauga, Ont. Amura played in Uruguay and is well-connected there. Club Nacional saw Osorio play on a trip to Uruguay and invited the 18-year-old to join them.

Osorio, who speaks Spanish by virtue of his parents coming from Colombia, spent two years with the club, graduating from the under-19 ranks to the reserves before returning home at the end of 2011.

Back in Toronto, he earned an invitation in September, 2012, to join the TFC academy after he excelled for SC Toronto in the Canadian Soccer League. Several months later, he was at the TFC camp, impressing then manager Ryan Nelsen as a 20-year-old and making his regular-season debut in 2013.

Canadian men’s soccer coach Octavio Zambrano says he is standing by Alphonso Davies after the 16-year-old was sent off during the 2-0 win over Jamaica on Saturday. Zambrano says he wants more consistency from the team.

The Canadian Press