Osorio absent from full Toronto FC training on Friday as injury woes continue

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The nightmare continues for Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who is still dealing with what he calls a “neurological dysfunction” after being elbowed in the head against Chicago on July 13.

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Not only is Osorio not in Europe with the Canadian national team getting ready for the FIFA World Cup in November, he did not even take part in full training with TFC on Friday afternoon.

“It’s a continuing situation that everybody’s trying to monitor,” said TFC coach Bob Bradley.

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Osorio, 30, told reporters prior to TFC’s match against Orlando City last Saturday that he was hoping to feel well enough after the Orlando game to be able to join the national team in Europe this week and possibly take part in a couple of pre-World Cup friendlies against Qatar and Uruguay.

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But he remained in Toronto. Despite that, TFC officials insist he did not suffer a setback in his injury. Osorio declined to be interviewed on Friday.

“As I’ve told you guys all along, that on a given day he might feel a little bit better, then you see how he’s doing. And then the next day, maybe no,” said Bradley. “It’s a situation that everybody is trying to help him through.”

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You know that Osorio, who has been a member of Canada’s senior national team since 2013, is doing everything he can to get healthy enough to play in the World Cup – the first one Canada has qualified for since 1986. Missing the world’s biggest sporting event would be a huge blow to the personable midfielder who, when not injured this year, was having one of this best seasons ever. TFC’s all time leader in appearances with 318, Osorio has nine goals this season, just one off of his career high. In 2018, Osorio scored 10 goals in 30 games. This year he has nine, but in only 23 appearances. He also has six assists. When asked how Osorio is mentally handling his head injury and being away from the national team, Bradley said: “I know it’s not been easy (but) he’s kept a good mentality about it. He’s working with our medical staff to try to work through it.

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“It’s a hard one. What are you going to say?” Bradley added.

Even if Osorio is healthy by November, it’s going to be a difficult situation for himself and three other members of Canada’s national team who play for TFC – Richie Laryea, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Doneil Henry. With only two games left and Toronto’s final regular season game on Oct.9, the Toronto foursome will void of crucial club games in the weeks leading to the World Cup, and that’s a considerable competitive disadvantage for those players. Canada defeated World Cup hosts Qatar on Friday 2-0 in Vienna, with Laryea and Kaye substituted into the game in the second half.

Osorio is in the final year of his current TFC contract and becomes a free agent at the end of this season. There have been reports that some European clubs are interested in his services, including Greek club Panathinaikos, and Osorio has said in the past that one of his dreams was to play club football in Europe. Osorio described negotiations with TFC for a new contract as slow.

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Meanwhile, TFC is winless in four straight and has lost three games in a row, giving up 12 goals in that stretch – only the fourth team in MLS history to do that. Next Friday night, the Reds host Alejandro Pozuelo and Inter Miami at BMO Field – Toronto’s final home game of the season. Pozuelo has yet to play at BMO Field against his former club and you can bet that nobody at TFC wants the Spaniard to steal the limelight in Toronto’s last home match of the year. In four seasons in Toronto, Pozuelo scored 30 goals in 100 total appearances, while also a wizard setting up scoring chances. He was traded to Inter Miami on July 7 for $150,000 in General Allocation Money as well as additional conditional GAM depending on certain performance metrics. Pozuelo has been a stand-out in south Florida, scoring two goals while adding six assists in 11 games.

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“We’ve have good moments in most games,” said Bradley, when asked of his team’s struggles of late. “More consistency, ability to take advantage of some chances, eliminate some mistakes. If you take the games that have been played since Charlotte, there’s been some exciting moments.”

TFC’s last victory was a 2-0 decision over Charlotte FC on Aug.27.

“We need to continue to build,” the coach added. “And so in our last home game of the year, I think that’s the focus – always try to be more consistent, trying to better in all phases of the game and try to take three points.

“The response has been good (this week in training),” Bradley added. “The push to still make good training sessions every day is there.”

Bradley admitted on Friday that he’s rarely experienced a season throughout his long coaching career where there have been so many issues with his club team – such as injuries, personal issues and a number of key players joining a club late in the season, including the three Italian players, Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Bernardeschi and Domenico Criscito.

“We always try to look out for the best interest of the players and I think that is something the club can be proud of in terms of how we deal and understand some of these situations,” Bradley said.

SBuffery@postmedia.com
Twitter @Beezersun

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