Toronto FC Jonathan Osorio ‘neuropathy’

TORONTO – Quarterback Jonathan Osorio, who has missed Toronto’s last four games, revealed on Thursday that he was dealing with what he called “neural dysfunction” going back about two months.

A staple in both Toronto and Canada, the 30-year-old Osorio says the problems started when he took an elbow in the head from Chicago Fire star Xherdan Shaqiri in the July 13 game. That blow to the left side of his head resulted in his jaw not being properly aligned which led to neurological problems.

“At first it looked like a concussion,” he said. “It was giving me concussion symptoms.”

The result was that some days he felt really good, only to train and then feel weak. To make matters worse, it took a while to diagnose the problem.

“I don’t know how to say this in scientific ways,” he said. “The best way I can explain it is that I had a hit on the left side, so the right side of my brain now compensates for my left. My left (my brain) wasn’t working properly.”

Osorio was evicted in the first half of the Chicago game and ended the match, saying he felt no symptoms at the time other than the effect of the blow itself.

“I thought OK, it might just be a bruise on my head. I’ve had that before.”

He made a trip to Montreal three days later, only to be sidelined by what the club described as concussion-like symptoms.

“It started as pressure in my head and I was able to play some matches,” he said.

Osorio started the next seven TFC matches, scoring four goals. But in the midst of the Aug. 20 game at Inter Miami, his third in a week, he said his symptoms had worsened, including a headache that affected his eyesight.

“I felt then that it might have been a concussion,” he said.

This was ruled out, however, after several medical consultations. Since then, Osorio has started doing exercises aimed at activating the brain again.

“It comes back slowly and slowly helps symptoms,” Osorio said.

“In the end, I think we have resolved it,” he added. “I feel a lot better now. I am able to train.”

He’s now using a mouthguard that helps his jaw re-align.

“I’ve never had this injury,” he said. “That’s why I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know how dangerous it was. After Miami, I tried to come back twice. You guys saw me on the field. I tried. And the symptoms came back again.. The worst.”

Osorio has had medical problems in the past. In 2017, he had an arrhythmia and in 2019 he suffered from anemia.

This time, he said the injury affected his mental health, with concern about what might be causing it.

“It was hard,” he said. “It was really hard to tell what it was. We couldn’t figure it out.” “I started feeling good after some rest and then back on the field and as soon as we ramped it up I started to freak out again. It was tough.”

The setback comes at an important time for the veteran midfielder, with Canada set to play Qatar and Uruguay in friendlies in Europe later this month ahead of the World Cup in November.

“They know and they work with me,” he said of the national team.

Osorio says his progress has been day in and day out, but he’s hoping to see some action on Saturday in Orlando.

“I guess I’m there…I knocked on the wood,” he said, tapping his fingers on the table in front of him. “Let’s see the reaction tonight and tomorrow. And we’ll see.”

He also hopes to be able to attend the upcoming Canadian camp in Europe.

Osorio missed Canada’s ill-fated camp in Vancouver in June, which was disrupted by a wage dispute, after an injury sustained in a previous game against Chicago. At the time, trainer Bob Bradley described it as “a lower body discomfort.

Osorio, who earns $1.026 million this year, is out of contract after this season. He says his focus was on recovery and ending the campaign. “And then, we’ll see what’s out there.”

The bell is about to ring in 13th-place Toronto (9-15-7), which enters Saturday’s game by six places and seven points below the Eastern Conference playoff line. With only nine points available from the three remaining TFC matches, elimination from the final appears imminent.

Toronto has been unwinnable in its last three matches (0-2-1) and has conceded four goals in each of its last two matches. TFC had lost only one of seven matches (4-1-2) before that, a streak that coincided with the arrivals of Italians Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi.

The three Italians and Osorio were part of Thursday’s open media training session. Defender Chris Mavinga, who missed the weekend’s loss in Atlanta, trained alone.

“All is well,” Bradley said when asked about the availability of the Italians.

Bradley said Mavinga (lower body injury) was making progress but was not yet in full training.

Defender Donnell Henry, who celebrated his 100th game for TFC in all competitions in Atlanta at the weekend, left training early with some discomfort in his lower leg.

Insigne was also absent in Atlanta, where he was dealing with an unspecified “personal family case”. But he returned to training on Wednesday.

Fifth place Orlando (12-12-6) is one point above the playoff line in the East with four games remaining.

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This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 15, 2022.