‘He’s the face of Toronto FC’: Jacob Shaffelburg on Jonathan Osorio

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April 20, 2022
Michael Singh
April 20, 2022

Jacob Shaffelburg doesn’t have a car, though that hasn’t worked out too badly for the Port Williams, Nova Scotia product. Living five minutes away from Jonathan Osorio and Alex Bono in downtown Toronto, Shaffelburg catches a ride to BMO Training Ground every morning with his veteran teammates.

“I’m lucky enough that I get to drive in every day with [them],” Shaffelburg told The Parleh at the BMO Training Ground on Wednesday. “We carpool, but I don’t add to it.”

That 30-minute car ride to and from training every day is an invaluable experience for any 22-year-old – having the time to soak in the knowledge of Osorio, who has as many goals as Shaffelburg has appearances (50). “It’s nice to just be in his presence every morning, just to pick his brain sometimes and hear what he has to say about everything. I try to listen to everything.”

Osorio is on the verge of making his 300th appearance in all competitions for Toronto FC and will likely become the first player in club history to reach that milestone this weekend when Toronto travels to the Big Apple to take on New York City FC.

READ MORE: Build the Statue: Jonathan Osorio’s legacy with club, country is like no other

Over the course of his career, the Canadian international has accomplished what no other Canadian has, graduating the ranks of the TFC Academy to now becoming a leader at the club. He’s carved out a blueprint for the next generation of domestic players that are trying to make it as a professional right here in their own backyard.

Osorio’s indispensable in Bob Bradley’s side, starting each of Toronto’s first seven matches this season, adding two goals and three assists. But in addition to his on-field production, he brings a wealth of experience in a leadership role, which is significant for a club that is now seeing a crop of young Canadian players come through the ranks in a way Toronto hasn’t before.

One of those players in Shaffelburg, who can’t thank Osorio enough for the role that he has played so far in his young career.

“He’s been— I can’t— words can’t [define] how helpful he has been to me throughout my career, and I’m so thankful for him, and I couldn’t even imagine getting to 300,” said Shaffelburg, who made his 50th appearance for TFC over the weekend. “It’s so cool to be so close to him and for him to hit 300 is amazing.” 

Shaffelburg recalls an instance over the weekend during Toronto’s 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union. In the first half of that match, the young fullback was taking too long, in Osorio’s eyes, to take a throw-in, so the veteran midfielder got after Shaffelburg and let him know. His savviness paid dividends as Shaffelburg’s quick throw-in during the second half to Osorio eventually led to Alejandro Pozuelo’s goal, which held up as the eventual game winner.

It's little plays like that which often go unnoticed by those of us watching the game from home, but Toronto FC’s youngsters certainly aren’t overlooking the value Osorio brings. The Brampton, Ont., native is often the first name that TFC homegrown players refer to when asked who has helped them out the most at the club – and for Shaffelburg, it’s no different.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to pay him back for everything that he’s done for me,” said Shaffelburg. “He’s been one of those guys to help me, bring me underneath his wing and just help me on every little thing possible – whether it’s yelling at me on the field for something or pushing me to be better. It’s just every little thing he’s been so helpful for me … he’ll forever be a big part of my career."

READ MORE: Exclusive: Pending free agent Jonathan Osorio on his contract negotiations with Toronto FC

The 29-year-old Osorio is a trailblazer, climbing up the ladder from the TFC Academy to now becoming one of the best midfielders in not only the country but in Major League Soccer as a whole.

And in Shaffelburg’s eyes, his teammate will go down as one of the best to ever wear a Toronto FC shirt.

“He’s a club legend,” said Shaffelburg. “I think he’s the face of Toronto FC, honestly. To be the first person to hit 300, that just speaks volumes in itself. I’d say he’s the face of Toronto FC for sure.

"He’s amazing.”

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