Out of favour with Canada, Osorio has competition at retooled Toronto FC

Gavin Day
Out of favour with Canada, Osorio has competition at retooled Toronto FC

As the Canadian Soccer Association announced yet another roster on Friday that was missing the name Jonathan Osorio, a new wave of confusion roiled Canadian soccer circles.

Osorio, who plays regular minutes in Major League Soccer with Toronto FC, has been noticeably absent from head coach Benito Floro’s roster ever since he was substituted off against Costa Rica at the Gold Cup last July.

There are theories about why he’s passed over for players getting little or no playing time with club teams. Some theorize that the personal relationship is broken between coach and player, after the midfielder reacted less than positively to being taken off in that Gold Cup game. Others guess that Floro doesn’t see how Osorio fits into his system.

For his part, Osorio’s not adding to the speculation.

“Apparently everybody knows the whole story,” he told Yahoo Canada Sports with a smile Monday, after wrapping up Toronto’s first training session open to media to start the new season. “But things will be good hopefully and hopefully I’ll be back soon.”

Through an interesting coincidence in scheduling for both club and country, Toronto FC will be on the west coast at the same time Canada prepares for their friendly against the United States on Feb. 5.

Canada, which features a good number of young, new, and unfamiliar faces, takes on the Americans at StubHub Centre, and a day later at the same complex Toronto plays the L.A. Galaxy in a pre-season game.

Floro isn’t a coach who airs dirty laundry in public to the media. If there is tension between him and Osorio he isn’t going to show it, and it looks like Osorio is following the same course.

When asked if he planned on attending the Canada-USA friendly, Osorio quickly (and enthusiastically) replied: “I would like to, of course. I support the national team no matter what people say.”

If there is one perk to missing out on the Canadian squad for the first game of a very important 2016, it’s that he’s in camp with his club in Toronto.

Toronto made a few moves this off-season, and while it’s nowhere near the sheer star power that arrived before last season, the team did bring in Canadian international Will Johnson to bolster the midfield.

While Toronto relied heavily on Giovinco’s offensive prowess last season to help gloss over the team’s defensive deficiencies, the belief this season is that the team is more well-rounded and Osorio will face competition to get regular minutes.

“We’ve made big moves this off-season. We took a big step forward,” Osorio said. “(Johnson’s) a proven Canadian international and has two MLS Cups under his belt so he’s definitely a guy with the talent and experience that adds to our roster.”

Osorio, along with his Toronto FC teammates, depart for the west coast on Wednesday for a trio of pre-season games before returning to Toronto. They'll continue their preparations in Orlando for two weeks in the middle of next month.