The 21-year-old Canadian international and TFC starlet is not surprised by his own early success, and neither is his coach.TORONTO -- It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Jonathan Osorio is Toronto FC's rising star, but it did take a leap of faith by the club's coaching staff to put him in the position to succeed.
The 21-year-old midfield phenom was re-introduced to the local soccer community in 2012 when he played a season for SC Toronto of the third-tier Canadian Soccer League after returning home from a prolonged stint in the youth ranks of Uruguay's Club Nacional.
TFC Academy's senior team also played in the CSL last year, and it is of little surprise that Osorio was invited to join the MLS club's youth ranks after his 11 goals in 17 league matches for SCT in 2012.
The Toronto-area native trained with TFC Academy over the fall and winter, and, in a stroke of good fortune, was called in by first team head coach Ryan Nelsen to help make up the numbers in preseason.
The rest, as they say, is history.
"I could make myself a hero and say, 'Yeah, I saw it,'" Nelsen quipped when asked last week whether he predicted Osorio's rapid ascent into becoming one of TFC's most important players. "We obviously saw it. We don't pull people out of the academy for the sake of it. You do see things, and we saw things early on that we liked.
"Did we know he'd have an impact like this? No. I'd say no. Did we think he was going to have an impact? Yes, but it was just determining when and what time."
That Osorio went from training ground fodder to budding local star in just over a half-season provides a feel-good story for yet another rough TFC campaign. But while past seasons have felt like lost causes in the tragic history that defines the club, 2013 has shown a bit of promise as the team is building around young players who can grow together as a unit.
Osorio is very much part of that group.
"His progression has been really, really quick, and generally the ones who do it really quickly kind of figure it out," Nelsen said. "They figure it out quickly and they work hard and they put their heads down and they listen, they learn.
"And they just naturally become good players."
That Osorio is now known as simply a "good player" without the qualifier of being young is a big step up for a kid that was on nobody's radar just a few short months ago. And while his eligibility for MLS Rookie of the Year is ambiguous -- his single season in the CSL could render him unqualified -- the fact that he has what it takes to even be in the conversation is something that the player himself always had confidence in accomplishing.
"It's a big surprise, but at the same time it's not, because I knew if I worked hard that good things will happen," Osorio said. "I know I have the talent to play in this league, so if I work hard and improve the weaknesses that I have and make them better I know I'll be able to play in this league."
It's that drive to succeed that Nelsen says will help Osorio continue his progression as a top young player in MLS. More importantly, it's what will help TFC as a whole, as an improved Osorio means a more dynamic attacking threat from a side that is severely lacking in that regard.
"He's still got so much to learn, because that position in this league is so key, it's so critical," Nelsen said. "He's got so much to learn, but what I love about the kid as well, and I've said this all the time, is that he comes to work, he just listens, he works hard and generally only good things happen."
As for the player, his blistering start to the season sees him second in rookie scoring with five goals so far. But is he thinking about any possible individual plaudits?
"Not at all," Osorio shrugged. "I focus on winning with Toronto FC."