In what has become a unique tradition that speaks to the strength of community around the Portland Timbers, two familiar faces visited team training Tuesday ahead of the team's big 2021 MLS Cup match on Saturday against New York City FC (12pm PT, ABC).
Atticus Lane-Dupre and Derrick Tellez were at the Timbers Training Center watching training and chatting with coaches and players afterwards. Both have long and special connections to the Timbers and Portland.
In 2013, a then-eight-year old Lane-Dupre was a few years past a childhood battle with cancer. The treatments and recovery had pulled him away from his beloved youth soccer team, Green Machine. When Make-A-Wish® Oregon approached to grant him a wish, his simple ask was if his Green Machine team could play the Portland Timbers. The team's Stand Together community outreach program got involved and a match was put together.
On May 1, 2013, in front of a raucous and packed North End, Lane-Dupre's Green Machine defeated the Timbers 10-9 with Atticus scoring four goals – including the game-winner. Timber Joey sawed logs. Lane-Dupre exchanged jerseys with Portland captain Will Johnson. And the Timbers Army, for the only time ever, was rooting for a team other than the Timbers to win. The match drew national and even international coverage.
When asked after the match why he chose to have his team take on an MLS club, Lane-Dupre simply said, “Because usually kids just choose to go to Disneyland with their family or getting something.
"I chose something that lots of people could do.”
Derrick Tellez's beginnings with the club is equally special.
In 2017, Tellez was five years old and battling a cancerous brain tumor. A huge Timbers fan who loved goalkeeping, Stand Together again worked with Make-A-Wish® Oregon to have the Timbers sign Tellez to a one-day contract as a pro goalkeeper on Sept. 20 of that year.
Tellez was given a space in the team locker room, a player page on the roster and, along with his older brother, Junior, attended a training session. Derrick worked on goalkeeping drills with the players and coaching staff on the field.
The following weekend, Derrick was part of the team starting XI picture for Portland's match against Orlando City and was listed on the official match recap as a substitute for the game – a 3-0 Timbers win that featured a Diego Valeri brace.
Derrick Tellez's Make-A-Wish week with the Portland Timbers
Both Lane-Dupre and Tellez have continued their connections with the club over the years – especially around the uniquely festive events of MLS Cup.
In 2015, Lane-Dupre and his family joined the club in Ohio while the Timbers prepared to face Columbus Crew SC. Atticus went the team's final training session at MAPFRE Stadium before the match which saw Portland capture their first MLS Cup title in a 2-1 victory over the Crew.
Three seasons later, Lane-Dupre again traveled with his family to Georgia for the 2018 MLS Cup final between Portland and Atlanta United FC, while Tellez welcomed the squad upon their return to Portland International Airport.
Now a high school senior, Lane-Dupre still follows the Timbers and at Tuesday's training session was reconnecting with players, a few of which he first met when playing as Green Machine.
"It’s super cool," he said about being with the team again. "I’m super grateful that they always invite me out here.
"It’s awesome staying connected with the team. It makes me a fan for life."
Tellez, now 10, was joined Tuesday by his older brother Junior, aged 12, and four-year old brother, Thiago. Timbers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, who was part of the group that trained with Derrick back in 2017, was quick to visit and see how his former teammate was doing. They chatted about playing again and Derrick ended up with a pair of Attinella's gloves as well as a jersey.
"To see him, it brings up a bunch of memories," Tellez remarked.
These types of continued connections celebrate a number of things. There's the excitement of a league championship, for sure, but they also run deeper into a connection with a club and a community.
To wit: Lane-Dupre's best friends are still among those same childhood teammates that together defeated the Timbers. In fact, they were talking about putting together a rec futsal team for the winter.
The team name? Green Machine.