Cian McCann Timbers 540

Axe Rewind: Cian McCann's billboard image brought recognition and continued love for soccer

PORTLAND, Ore. - There he was, an axe held chest high, beaming down on the crowds as they made their way to Powell's Books.

But Cian McCann, then just seven years-old and already a big Timbers supporter, never expected to see himself on a billboard in downtown Portland.

"I didn't know about it until my friend told me that his mom saw the picture up on the way to picking him up. And I was like, 'I'm on billboard?'" Cian said.

While he was taking the photos, Cian was both nervous and excited. "What if I blink?" he often wondered. "What if I do something wrong?" The photographers, though, set him at ease. Still, Cian had no idea that he would end up on a billboard.

"I didn't realize that that was going to happen. I thought it was just going to be a photo shoot and they were going to just put it on the website. But no, they put [the billboard] up around Powell's Books. It was amazing."

The billboard's visibility made Cian a recognizable face at school and at Timbers games, eventually earning him recognition from a most unlikely source.

"I went to get autographs from [then-Timbers players] Futty Danso and Kenny Cooper," Cian explained. "Futty recognized me and asked me for my autograph before he gave me his, so it was like, this professional soccer player is asking me for my autograph? Me, a kid!"

"I was absolutely astonished that someone like that had asked me for an autograph," he continued. "It was like, 'Wow!' It was just amazing."

One of Cian's favorite MLS memories is the Timbers' home opening draw against the New York Red Bulls in 2013. While that match was significant, both because of Diego Valeri's game-tying wonder strike and Caleb Porter's professional coaching debut, it had added significance for Cian, whose cousin Isabella was a big Red Bulls supporter.

And while Cian and his family have traveled out to Red Bull Arena to cheer on the Timbers, he's still waiting for Isabella and her family to return the favor at Providence Park.

Isabella's New York allegiance, though, hasn't stopped the cousins from teasing each other about their favorite clubs.

Today, twelve year-old Cian, a seventh grader at Da Vinci Arts Middle School, is an admitted soccer fanatic who, by his own estimation, plays or thinks about soccer "one hundred percent of the time."

"Ever since I can remember, I've grown up watching soccer, kicking a ball," he said. "I was bred on soccer. It's my life."

Some day, Cian says, he hopes that he'll have the chance to do something about his passion for the sport of soccer and make his dream of working in the sport a reality.

For now, he continues to go to nearly every Timbers home game, singing along with the Timbers Army rooting on his favorite team. Good season or bad, he says, he'll always cheer on the green and gold.