On Tuesday, Jonathan Osorio officially became the eighth captain of Toronto FC. He also becomes only the third Canadian to lead the Ontario club as the leader of the team after Dwayne De Rosario and Jim Brennan.
Jonathan Osorio Becomes Captain of Toronto: Why It Happened?
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) January 23, 2024
There are two big reasons why this could have happened. One reason is that Osorio is the current longest-tenured player on the team. During his time with TFC, both Michael Bradley, Steven Caldwell, and Darren O’Dea were captains and he probably learned a lot from those players in terms of leading a team. It was his experience with the team since 2013 as the local boy from Brampton boy that led him to become the captain of the team.
“I am incredibly honoured and excited to have been named the captain of the club that means so much to me,” Osorio said in a club statement. “Wearing this armband comes with a great responsibility, and I am determined to represent the fans of this club and the people of this city in the best way,” (source: Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press).
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It might also be the way Osorio carries himself with the club and the staff. This is what Toronto FC head coach, John Herdman, said about Osorio (source: Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press):
“Jonathan’s a very special person at this club,” Herdman said Tuesday from Palm Beach, Fla., where TFC is holding the first half of its training camp. “You only have to see his connection with kitchen staff, the equipment people, down to the kids at the academy who look up to him as that player that went all the way for the club to a championship.
This leads into the second reason why he was probably named captain. It was the high opinion Herdman had of Osorio, when Herdman was coaching the CanMNT in the same Davidson, Canadian Press article:
“He’s waited patiently. He’s built the experiences. And he’s ready. I’ve worked with Jonathan for five years and I’ve watched him mature, build experiences like CONCACAF qualifying and World Cup. He’s ready to take on this big responsibility. And he’s excited for it.”
Jonathan Osorio: Reasons Why This Is A Good Move
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Osorio also had a legendary 2018 Concacaf Champions League campaign, winning the Golden Boot along with teammate, Sebastian Giovinco with four goals each. The Canadian native from Brampton also has the third-most goals in club history with 61 goals scored. He also leads all-time appearances with the club with 341 appearances earned with the local team.
Players that Jonathan Osorio Was Potentially Competing With
John Herdman firmly believes that Toronto FC superstars Lorenzo Insigne & Federico Bernardeschi have bought into what he’s trying to build at #TFCLive.
Do you? pic.twitter.com/a7A50qL8JK
— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) January 17, 2024
One also must consider the candidates Osorio was competing with. As revealed by Herdman in Tom Nightingale’s Waking The Red article, Osorio, Federico Bernardeschi, Lorenzo Insigne, Sean Johnson, and Shane O’Neill are part of the leadership group in 2024.
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With Insigne and Bernardeschi, while it is possible they could play the full season this year, there have been rumours that potentially one or both of them could leave TFC in the short-term.
That leaves Osorio, Johnson, and O’Neill, and there could be a case for any three of them to be the captain after Michael Bradley retired at the end of last year.
However, looking at the three players in particular, as Johnson made some big saves for TFC last year, Osorio is the one that stands out. He is the one who has seen everything good and bad with the club and Herdman has first-hand observed his growth as a player and as a person with the CanMNT.
Lots of Pressure Will Be On The New Toronto FC Captain
Many thanks to Mr. Michael Bradley pic.twitter.com/baWePXzD9u
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) October 22, 2023
READ MORE: Michael Bradley: The Most Important Captain In Toronto FC History
It will be very hard, if not possible, to follow the lead of Bradley. To see the success of the team from 2016-20, and the selfless sacrifice that Bradley took in taking less money, is hard to replicate.
However, for Osorio, it is not about trying to be following in Bradley’s footsteps, but to create and continue his legacy that he has created with his club team. There are a lot of weaknesses that TFC has in their team right now. A positive step for them would probably be making the MLS Cup Playoffs, much like they did in 2015 and go from there. In order for them to do this, TFC will need to play better at BMO Field, but more importantly, they need to have more success on the road.
Toronto FC head coach John Herdman is intent on rebuilding with Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi 🇮🇹
🗣️ “Their behaviour, their communication, their posture, everything is showing they’re fully committed”
— AS USA (@English_AS) January 16, 2024
The more important issue though is to fix the culture of the locker room and the team itself. This is what Osorio said about that as their season ended last year (source: Brendan Dunlop of Waking The Red):
“We didn’t do a good enough job of all sticking together. The group wasn’t together, there wasn’t the brotherhood [like with Herdman’s CanMNT]. John’s working on that and in the last two weeks, the team seemed more together than in a long time,” Osorio said.
READ MORE: John Herdman: How He Took The CanMNT To The FIFA World Cup
Now, Osorio will look to be part of that solution as he has earned the privilege of becoming TFC’s captain. As for Herdman, there is a track record of him changing cultures of toxic and/or negative environments. Just look at the success of the CanWNT and the success of the CanMNT while he was with those national teams.
Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports, of a Jonathan Osorio Headshot, on August 20, 2023.