03/22/2013 11:38 EDT | Updated 05/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Young Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio living the life with Toronto FC

TORONTO - On a Toronto FC roster still in the midst of a major overhaul, midfielder Jonathan Osorio remains one of the more surprising finds.

The 20-year-old from Toronto was a new name to most during the pre-season, a recent signing to the MLS club's academy. But new manager Ryan Nelsen saw enough to include him in his first starting 11, against the Columbus Crew during a February exhibition tournament in Orlando, Fla.

Osorio has stuck with the team, ranking as its third-youngest player behind fellow academy graduates Quillan Roberts (18) and Doneil Henry (19).

It's a tribute to Osorio's skills and attitude, as well as proof of Nelsen's belief in picking players on performance rather than reputation.

"It's just great being at home," the soft-spoken Osorio said after practice this week. "Playing in front of friends and family, it's a great feeling. And I'm making a lot of people proud, as well as myself.

"But I still have a lot of work to do, to be where I want to be."

He has been a substitute in all three game so far, coming on in the 82nd minute against Sporting Kansas City in Toronto's home opener and the 84th minute against Montreal.

While young, Osorio has already travelled a long way to get where he is today.

He spent two years at Club Nacional in Montevideo, Uruguay. His entree to the club came via coach Jorge Amura at the Clarkson Sheridan Soccer Club in suburban Mississauga.

Amura played in Uruguay and has excellent connections there. Club Nacional saw Osorio play on a trip to the South American country and invited the 18-year-old to join them.

He spent two years there, starting in the under-19 ranks before making his way into the reserves before deciding to return home at the end of 2011.

"It was a great experience," said Osorio, who speaks Spanish by virtue of his parents coming from Colombia. "Uruguay is a beautiful country. There'a lots of beaches,

"But most importantly the football passion there is amazing. So I got a lot of education there that has helped me now."

Back in Toronto, he excelled for SC Toronto in the Canadian Soccer League, earning an invitation to join the TFC academy in September. In February, he was in TFC camp.

"It happened so fast, it was perfect," the former Canadian under-20 player said.

He helped his cause by scoring a pre-season goal against Orlando City.

While young, Osorio seems comfortable in his surroundings. But his eyes shine when asked about playing alongside a veteran like Brazilian Julio Cesar, who was once a member of Real Madrid.

"Real Madrid is the team I support," he said with animation. "So really that's a dream come true playing with all these guys — Danny Koevermans who's had so much success in Europe. It's great. It's something I can learn from a lot, I'm taking it day by day, taking it all in, not taking anything for granted so I can improve my game."

Osorio has two brothers who are also in the game.

Younger brother Nicolas is a member of the under-15 side at the Toronto FC academy while middle brother Anthony is with the under-19 side at Club Nacional.

The Uruguay club is also home to Canadian international Lucas Cavallini, although he is currently on loan to another side.