Toronto FC keeps Oso­rio in the fold

Mid­fielder rated as team’s MVP signs long-term deal to mark his ca­reer year

The Niagara Falls Review - - Sports - NEIL DAVID­SON

TORONTO — 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, has signed a new long-term deal with Toronto, ac­cord­ing to a source. His ex­ist­ing con­tract was to ex­pire at the end of the 2018 sea­son.

An of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment was ex­pected Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

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 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.

Oso­rio marked his 200th game in all com­pe­ti­tions with TFC on Aug. 15 in Toronto’s 5-2 sec­ond­leg 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 ’80, 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 ter­ri­er­like 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 ’12.

Former man­ager Ryan Nelsen liked what he saw of Oso­rio at train­ing camp in ’13 and the young mid­fielder went on to see ac­tion in 28 league games that year.

CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Jonathan Oso­rio has elected to stay with Toronto FC rather than test the waters out­side Ma­jor League Soc­cer.

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