Every fan knows that Jonathan Osorio is one of Toronto FC’s most important players, in every respect. From his ability to his leadership to the continuity he brings as TFC’s longest-serving player, Oso’s role is integral.

This season, he found himself in the unusual position of occupying the club’s third Designated Player slot, with the club hamstrung by the high salaries of Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi which severely limited their financial options.

The 31-year-old admitted at TFC’s end-of-season media day that he never expected to find himself in that position when he signed a new contract with the club last December.

“Because of all the rules and stuff they ended up putting that [DP] tag on me for the benefit of the team,” Osorio said on Friday.

Asked if he will be a DP next season, the midfielder replied: “I don’t know! I don’t think so.

“When I signed my contract, it was made very clear to me that I was coming back not to be a DP, and I was OK with that… I have no problem with the expectations of being a DP at Toronto FC, but I was under the impression that I was not coming here to be a DP and that maybe that DP spot was to be used for another signing or something.”

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Osorio had said back in March that his status as DP “means nothing, it’s just a way of a team working around the salary cap.” Those comments were confirmed by president Bill Manning at the time and came after former head coach Bob Bradley had admitted that the club had not found a player who fit the small budget they had for a third DP.

A DP counts as $650,000 against the cap, so having Osorio listed as a DP effectively allowed the club to save on Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) while they decide what to do with the third DP slot in the long term. That decision, of course, will be one of the biggest of this winter off-season.

In the meantime, regardless of who may enter (or exit) through the door, Osorio knows he and other senior players at the club have to step up with longtime captain Michael Bradley gone.

“There’s a few of the guys that need to step up, there’s no replacing Michael,” Osorio noted. “But what we can do as a collective is to fill that leadership void, it’s going to take a leadership team and I feel that includes myself.”

Osorio has never shied away from putting this club on his shoulders. In 2024, he may be more important than ever.