‘What’s in the Water in Brampton?’ A Suburb Powers Canada Soccer
Osorio, who has long known Larin and Doneil Henry, another player from Brampton who did not make the World Cup roster after being injured in a tuneup match, said he and his friends all played soccer because it was more accessible than hockey, Canada’s most popular sport.
“There was a point where I wanted to try hockey and I wanted to try baseball, but my parents, honestly, were going to do everything they can to provide for me to give me the opportunity but it would have been very, very tough,” he said. “Luckily for everybody, for them and for me, soccer was my passion anyway.”
While cricket is also popular in Brampton, soccer has a more formal development system. There are many public facilities in which to play soccer, including the multimillion dollar Save Max Sports Centre, which has indoor and outdoor soccer fields. There is the Brampton Soccer Club, the largest local youth soccer league. There are other soccer academies, and the nearby club scene — where Osorio said he had developed — has exploded.
And there are also top high school programs, such as St. Edmund Campion, which has won what is essentially the state title for Ontario five times since 2009, with Larin winning it three times in a row during that span. Highlighting the strength of the area, Spagnoli said nine of the past 10 provincial championships played (the pandemic wiped out 2020 and 2021) came from schools in Brampton or Mississauga, a neighboring city that is a little larger and also diverse.
“For me, it’s interesting because of those six, seven players, the oldest is 39 years old,” Osorio said, adding later, “It’s not something that just came coincidentally during this time. This is something that’s been breeding over time. There’s been so many talented players in Brampton for a time now.”
To become a professional, Osorio, like his fellow national team players from Brampton, had to leave home. He went to Uruguay at 17 to train with Club Nacional and eventually landed with Toronto F.C. in Major League Soccer, where he won a title in 2017.
When Osorio returns home, he sometimes stops by his favorite restaurant, Tonino’s Pizzeria and Panini, where his signed jersey hangs on a wall. He is close with its owner, Danny Caloiero, who sponsored one of Osorio’s youth teams and hosted him, his teammates and their families for pizza after practices or games. Osorio said going from Italian food one night to the many different cuisines of Brampton another night was what he enjoyed most.