BEAVERTON, Ore. – As the Portland Timbers prepared at training today for Sunday’s match against Orlando City SC (5pm PT, FS1), the team welcomed their newest addition to the club: goalkeeper Derrick Tellez.
The five-year-old, signed Wednesday to a one-game contract fulfilling his wish to be a Timbers first-team player through Make-A-Wish® Oregon, became the youngest player ever to join the club.
- PHOTOS: Tellez trains with the team
On Friday, Tellez arrived at the adidas Timbers Training Center along with his parents and his older brother Josue via limousine, participated in the team photo, signed his contract with Timbers general manager and president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson and head coach Caleb Porter and then joined his new teammates for training.
“[Derrick] looked good,” said Attinella of his new teammate. “A little shy at first but once he got to know the team a little bit, he opened up. I think he had a good time.”
Gleeson echoed Attinella’s sentiment believing that Tellez was strong in practice as he got to know his new teammates.
“Having Derrick out there was pretty awesome,” said Gleeson. “He’s coming in strong. He’s definitely put a marker down . . . He’s a great kid and a really good goalkeeper.”
After the initial goalkeeping drills with Derrick and Josue, the duo watched the first team practice on the training pitch. At the end of the session, Porter called on Tellez to come out on the field and save a penalty kick attempt from Timbers leading-scorer Diego Valeri. Tellez dove to his left to stop the shot with authority.
“I think it puts things in perspective,” Porter said at his weekly press conference of Tellez’s involvement with the team. “Obviously, we’re very focused on results and winning and that’s our business, but it’s good sometimes to take a step back and have perspective.
“For Derrick to come and be a part of a day of training and at the match and for us to be able to make his wish come true, that’s pretty special.”
On Sunday, Tellez, who has courageously battled a brain tumor during his young life, and his brother Josue will join the team at Providence Park for the pregame ceremonies, sit on the bench during warmups and walk out onto the field with the players for the national anthem before rejoining their parents to watch the game from the KeyBank Club.
After the match, Tellez will join Porter and the team on the field to participate in the log ceremony in front of the Timbers Army, before heading to the locker room for Porter’s postgame team speech.
If Friday’s training session was any indication, Tellez is making a quick transition to the team. The goalkeeper was smiling throughout training and spoke to a gathering of media afterwards explaining that he thought the day was “fun” and that goalkeeping was “pretty easy.” When asked about what he’d do on Sunday, Tellez said, “We’re going to play football,” adding that his job was going to be to “catch the ball.”
The team gathered in the locker room following practice where Derrick was given the captain’s armband. It was a day that was clearly meaningful for both Tellez and his new teammates.
“For someone in his position, to use his wish on something like this, it’s a really humbling experience,” said Attinella. “It’s great to have him out here and I think it’s a good little bit of energy for the guys. It’s just fun to make his dream come true. It’s pretty cool.”