'The progression is slow': Jonathan Osorio on his contract negotiations with Toronto FC

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June 30, 2022
Michael Singh
June 30, 2022

Toronto FC will have plenty of difficult decisions to make at the end of this season, but perhaps none more so than what to do with Jonathan Osorio.

Osorio will be out of contract at the end of the year. According to figures released by the MLSPA, Osorio made just over $1 million in guaranteed compensation this season and is likely to command a raise in his next deal.

It’s a tricky situation considering Osorio just turned 30 years old, so where do things stand currently between Toronto’s franchise-leader in appearances made and the club?

Speaking to The Parleh earlier this week, the Brampton, Ont., native provided an update on those discussions, and based on his comments, there won’t be a resolution any time soon.

“They’ve begun, very, very, very early stages,” Osorio told The Parleh from the BMO Training Grounds. “I think right now I would say I’m focusing on performing on the pitch and their focus right now is getting in players that need to come in right now, and then we’ll see. I will not be a distraction to the team, and they know that. I don’t know where their head is on [those talks], I just know right now, the progression is slow.”

As of Friday, Osorio is free to sign a pre-contract agreement – like Toronto did to land Lorenzo Insigne from S.S.C. Napoli – with any other club outside of Major League Soccer. Toronto FC appear to be content with allowing that to happen. Osorio, on the other hand, said he was unsure how he felt in terms of how slowly negotiations have advanced.

“I don’t know really to be honest. I’m more focused on just playing right now and seeing how the season goes,” said Osorio. “I want to keep my options open to everything and they know that. Unless they offer something you can’t deny, then for me, I think I’ll have my options open for as long as I can.”

It’s worth noting that after the end of last season, Osorio reiterated his long desire to head overseas and challenge himself at a higher level. But with the way that Richie Laryea’s situation with Nottingham Forest has played out – and the direction that Toronto FC are trending – one must wonder if he still has that same craving. Or would it be more beneficial to stay put and re-sign with his hometown club?

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

Nevertheless, Osorio has made it clear that he intends to keep every door open, including the possibility of moving on from Toronto FC at the end of the year.

Earlier this month, The Parleh also spoke to Toronto FC President Bill Manning about Osorio, though Manning wasn’t too keen on discussing the Canadian’s contract negotiations publicly. What he was willing to state and emphasize, however, was just how important Osorio was to the franchise.

“When there’s a Mount Rushmore of TFC down the road, you know Jonathan Osorio’s the first player to hit 300 games, you know he’s going to be on that,” said Manning. “I do not want to undercut anything that Jonathan Osorio means to this club, but again, those discussions will come as we kind of play things out.”

Osorio is enjoying a career year for Toronto FC. In just 11 MLS starts this season, he already has four goals and five assists. He ranks 12th in the league in non-penalty goals and assists per 90 (0.73), despite playing in a deeper role than every other player ahead of him.

There’s an extra strut to his step – a newfound confidence – something he attributes to his amazing run with the Canadian men’s national team earlier this year.

“This is probably the best start that I’ve had to a season,” said Osorio, who added that the way the team plays under new manager Bob Bradley suits his style of play. “I think the January camp [with Canada] is what started that for me, especially more so the USA game is what gave me the confidence: starting a game and playing against and with players that are on very big clubs, and I [didn’t] feel out of place on that field … so that gave me confidence going into the season.”

The Brampton, Ont., native says he remains focused on first getting Toronto FC back to the postseason, but also improving his all-around game ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup later this year. Osorio wants to be a big part of John Herdman’s Canada, who return to the big stage for the first time since 1986.

READ MORE: Build the statute: There may never be another Jonathan Osorio 

In games that Osorio has featured in this season, Toronto FC are 7W-5L-3D in all competitions. Without him in the lineup, TFC are just 0W-4L-1D, including a penalty shoot-out victory over Forge FC to capture the 2020 Canadian Championship.

It’s clear that Toronto FC are a better side with Osorio on the pitch, and this season, there’s a legitimate argument to be made that he has been the club’s most important player, which in a contract year, is perfect timing for the Canadian international.

“I feel like when you play well in a contract year, the contract sorts itself out, whether it’s renewing here or somewhere else,” said Osorio. “I think it’ll sort itself out as long as I perform, so that’s what I’m focused on – performing – so that I could have a good season and a good World Cup.”

When Toronto was chosen as a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in a live show from New York City, it wasn’t Atiba Hutchinson or Junior Hoilett that acted as Canada’s representative. Rather it was Toronto FC’s Jonthan Osorio who stood alongside Chelsea FC forward Cristian Pulisic of the United States and Napoli’s Hirving Lozano of Mexico – a testament to the fact that Osorio has become the face of football in Toronto.

At such an exciting time for the game in Canada – and Toronto – it would be quite the shame to see 2022 be Osorio’s last in a Toronto FC shirt. But as he put it, all options remain on the table.

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