How a Timbers' loss to Green Machine seven years ago became a defining moment for club and community

Mikaël Silvestre only played eight games with the Timbers, but in the video he recorded to honor Friday’s occasion, it’s clear he left with at least one lasting memory of Portland.

He wasn’t the only player from the club’s 2013 Major League Soccer squad to send a message. Futty Danso, the team’s longest-tenured player at the time, did also, as did the man they call Captain Jack: Jack Jewsbury. A player who was the favorite of May 1, 2013’s honoree also offered his thoughts, with Ryan Johnson calling his time with Atticus Lane-Dupre “one of my memorable moments” of his lone season with Portland.

That Silvestre so vividly recalls that day speaks to the memory’s power. This is a defender who played for Manchester United, Arsenal and Inter Milan, and collected 40 caps for France during a career that spanned 19 years. But when asked to record a message honoring Lane-Dupre’s Green Machine defeating the Portland Timbers, Silvestre had memorabilia on hand: two images he’d saved from the day Make-A-Wish Oregon and the Portland Timbers made a five-year-old’s dream come true.

“The Green Machine and Atticus killed the Portland Timbers that day,” Silvestre remembered. The six-on-six game was played across the penalty box in Providence Park’s north end, with Lane-Dupre’s game-winning goal leading his group of friends, the Green Machine, to victory over Will Johnson, Darlington Nagbe, and the rest of the Timbers.

“Even the Timbers Army turned on us,” Silvestre said, moments before a playful giggle. “That was a difficult time.”

The Army’s part in the day may have been as important as Make-A-Wish’s, the Timbers organization’s, or the players who faced Green Machine. As news of the day resonated globally, it became clear: everything had come together, perhaps in an unforeseen way, to make the event unforgettable. Combined, each showed the power that can be leveraged when a community for something they love.

It was seven years ago today.

Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer / Portland Timbers

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Lane-Dupre is 15 years old, now, and like anybody who’s moved from one stage of childhood to another, his life is much different. Seven years in the middle of your life is the blink of an eye, but when it makes up more than half of your life’s experiences, you’ve moved from one world to another.

Now Lane-Dupre has the option of seeing that day in a different way, something that should be a source of pride for all involved. Based on what’s been shared with the Timbers and other sources, he has a life that’s delightfully normal: one that includes every option, every freedom to move forward. Lane-Dupre doesn’t have to be defined by one memory, even if that memory has proved so definitional for others. It’s all anybody could have hoped for that day in Goose Hollow.

Among those defined by that day is Stand Together, the community impact arm of the Timbers and Portland Thorns FC's organization. Since its founding at the onset of the club’s Major League Soccer era, Stand Together’s mission has had room for events like Lane-Dupre’s, with the project’s mission imploring it to “harness the power of sport to improve the lives of children and families.” But before the events of that day, the extent of Stand Together’s “power” was still unclear. In hindsight, the potential of that power was undervalued.

Green Machine’s day began as a Make-A-Wish initiative, with Stand Together playing a key part in making it come true. Through other departments within the Timbers, the Timbers Army was brought in, players came on board, and the media was invited to amplify the occasion. Green smoke and waved flags met every Green Machine goal, with the North End’s “P-T-F-C” chant temporarily changed to “G-M-F-C,” honoring their new heroes. In the days that followed, highlights of the match spread across the globe, with those who’d never heard of the Timbers linking the team with something that transcended the field.

Since, we’ve seen Lane-Dupre’s experience replicated by other organizations. And whether his day in Goose Hollow was the first of its kind is probably debatable, too. The scope of the event, though, and the commitment it received beyond those who have offices and lockers at Providence Park, felt something more. It felt exponentially more – the reason why so many around the world fell in love with the moment; and why that moment has become a standard for Stand Together’s mission.

Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer / Portland Timbers

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That standard was met again four years later, when another five year old, Derrick Tellez, was signed to a one-game contract as part of his own Make-A-Wish fulfillment. In the middle of a battle with a cancerous brain tumor, Tellez was treated to a day’s training at the team’s Beaverton, Oregon, training center. The goalkeeper in a limousine, signed his contract seated between the team’s president, Gavin Wilkinson, and then-head coach, Caleb Porter, and ahead of the weekend’s game against Orlando City, was giving a kit with the number 100.

The next year it was the Thorns helping a dream come true, with seven-year-old Maryn Chapman taking part in a day’s training at Providence Park. Like Tellez, Chapman was battling a form of brain cancer, and like Tellez, one of her biggest wishes was tied to Portland soccer. A day before that weekend’s visit from Sky Blue FC, Chapman warmed up with the likes of Tobin Heath and Andressinha, and finished her session by shooting on a goal defended by Meghan Klingenberg.

One month before that, the legacy of Green Machine had gone international, with a 15-year-old Iraqi boy whose left leg was lost after a missile strike in Fallujah given a day at the Timbers’ training ground. For Mustafa Abed, it was his second time in Portland, with a trip ten years earlier marking his first set of treatment in the United States. Back in the country for a new set of procedures, Abed received a customized jersey from the Timbers’ staff and later trained with the likes of Jeff Attinella and Zarek Valentin.

As the Timbers and Thorns have grown, the number of wishes that reach Stand Together has grown, too. Seven years from Lane-Dupre’s day at the stadium, his wish has turned into an experience Stand Together strives to offer. And now, occasionally, those wishes come from far beyond Oregon.

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That breadth may be one of the three legacies from May 1, 2013. After Lane-Dupre’s day in Goose Hollow, the power of the Timbers’ community became clear, and it became to clear to much of the soccer-following world. For all the things the team may accomplish on the field, the Timbers will always be known to some for their day against the Green Machine. Rarely has a loss meant so much.

Perhaps the most important legacy, though, was the proof of potential: a realization that the passion of a young fan, the resources of a soccer club, the connections of community and the power of sport could combine for something that transcended a wish. Events like those of that May day were not only possible but they could become part of a community’s identity. They could become definitional.

Within Stand Together, that definition is a third legacy. The project was never imagined with limits, but in the momentum garnered from that day, the reach of the project grew faster than anybody could have predicted. The potential within the group’s reach – through the Timbers’ powers, and through powers of the clubs’ supports – manifest in a way that set a new bar. Lane-Dupre’s day couldn’t be a one-off. It immediately became endemic to Stand Together’s mission.

That mission continued through Tellez. It continued through Chapman and Abed, and in future wishes, it will continue through more. But it all started with Lane-Dupre. It all started when the Green Machine triumphed in Portland.

Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer / Portland Timbers

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