Toronto FC: Understanding Jonathan Osorio's decision to return
By Paul Taylor
While Toronto FC are delighted Jonathan Osorio signed a contract extension, why didn't the Canadian international pursue his long-term ambition to play in Europe?
Toronto FC and their supporters received an early Christmas present, when Jonathan Osorio signed a new contact to remain in Southern Ontario. As per TFC's communications team, the deal was for three years with a 2026 option using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM).
Financial terms of the deal have yet to be officially confirmed. What we do know is that Osorio's previous contract had a base deal of $1 million and overall guaranteed compensation of just over $1.026 million. (It is worth noting the maximum TAM which can be offered in 2023 is around $1.65 million.)
Integral to the team
The Toronto native's decision to return was an important one for the roster. He is TFC's all-time appearance leader, third overall in goals scored and one of the top players in franchise history.
In this respect, Osorio is coming off arguably his best ever season with the Reds. This included scoring a team-tying nine regular season goals and leading the way with six assists.
What makes this even more more impressive, is that the 30-year-old's season was compromised by dealing with concussion symptoms. His 23 MLS appearances were the second-fewest of his career, as he missed all but 18 minutes of the final seven regular season games in 2022.
After the signing was announced, Osorio said all the right things to the media. As reported Ari Liljenwall of mlssoccer.com, he said:
"I think the way the last two years had gone, it would've been a little bit sour leaving the club in that way. I think I'm excited for what's to come in the future of this club. For me, it felt like this was my destiny. No matter what I wanted or whatever was presenting itself, it felt like it was my destiny to stay here at Toronto ... It's a club that's very ambitious. They're always trying to win and as a player, what more do you want? You play to win trophies, and so for me to play for Toronto FC is a big privilege. It's a big responsibility as well."
Despite the signing being a positive for everyone concerned with TFC, it was still perceived as a surprise by some. In the past, Osorio has made no secret of his desire to play in Europe.
As we wrote back in November, there were reports the Canadian international was targeting a move to England in the New Year. Apparently, several English Football League clubs were interested in offering him a contract.
So what changed? One of the overriding factors was likely how the World Cup in Qatar played out.
Fair or not to point out, Osorio did not take full advantage of the opportunity to display his talents on the World stage. As a result, suitable offers from abroad probably didn't materialize.
This does not mean no offers were forthcoming full stop, but the conclusion is they were not satisfactory. This speaks volumes, when considering the midfielder's ambition to play abroad.
When you factor in Osorio's age, time is running out for him to fulfill his ambition of playing in Europe. As such, you know there would have been a lot of soul-searching when deciding what to do.
Challenging for trophies
Ultimately, number 21 is now focused on returning Toronto FC to perennial contender status. As per Liljenwall, he said:
"Winning here, not just from myself, from other players telling me: There's pretty much no feeling like it. I think that's a big part of how the fans make you feel as well as the people working within the club, within the walls of Toronto FC, how they make the players feel, how they make them feel comfortable. They help with settling in with their families and everything. It's a big family club ... It's a club that's very ambitious. They're always trying to win and as a player, what more do you want? You play to win trophies, and so for me to play for Toronto FC is a big privilege. It's a big responsibility as well."
Osorio can be proud of everything he has achieved to date in his professional career. He has developed into a complete midfielder; equally skilled in his play-making, attacking and defensive duties.
Now, it is about complementing those talents with the likes of Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi. Europe's loss is Toronto FC's gain and supporters have genuine reason to be excited about the future.
How important is Osorio to the success of Toronto FC moving forward? As for the club in general, what do you predict for them in 2023? Let us know in the comments section below.