This season has been a frustrating one for Toronto FC, but 21-year-old Jonathan Osorio has given the club plenty to be excited about down the road.
Osorio tries to continue his impressive play Saturday night as Toronto visits the Columbus Crew with the Trillium Cup on the line.
Osorio has proved to be a rare bright spot for Toronto (4-11-8), which is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 20 points, six behind Columbus (7-11-5). The Ontario native ranks second on the team with five goals and is one behind Colorado's Deshorn Brown for the most among rookies.
"The improvement that I have seen in him over the last two to three months has been outstanding," captain Steven Caldwell told the league's official website. "He is growing as a lad and as a player and his confidence level is getting higher all the time. He obviously has an abundance of talent, ability and pace. I think he is going to be a top class player."
Osorio has put himself in the running for rookie of the year, but he is more concerned with helping the team.
"I'm not thinking (about individual awards) at all," he said. "I'm focused on winning with Toronto FC."
While Toronto has mostly struggled against Columbus, the club improved to 2-9-7 against the Crew with a 2-1 victory July 27. Osorio tied the match in the 87th minute and Andrew Wiedeman scored the winner in stoppage time, snapping Toronto's four-game losing streak in the series.
"It's going to be an interesting game, an exciting game to play," Osorio said of Saturday's showdown. "They've beat us at home (1-0 on May 18) and we got them back in the second, so I guess you could say this one's the decider. Both teams will go out there pressing really hard and going for the win."
The Crew had lost three straight and six of seven before bouncing back to beat New York 2-0 last Saturday. Federico Higuain provided all the offense with his sixth and seventh goals and Matt Lampson, starting in place of the injured Andy Gruenebaum, made two saves to record his second clean sheet.
"One of the biggest jobs as a goalkeeper is to give the team confidence," Lampson said. "When you make big saves they really thrive off it and I think that's exactly what happened."
Toronto is coming off a 2-1 loss to Seattle last Saturday. The club fell behind 2-0 before Osorio scored in the 46th minute.
"We know that in the end results count only," he said. "We are sad we didn't get the win, but we are proud of the way we played and hopefully we can continue that play on Saturday."
Dominic Oduro has four goals in his last six matches against Toronto and one in both meetings this year. Oduro leads the Crew with nine goals.