PORTLAND, Ore. — Goalkeeper Derrick Tellez signed his historic contract with the Portland Timbers on Friday before showing off his considerable skills in practice and making his best game face for a team photo.
A player of few words, Derrick shyly answered “yes” when asked if he was excited about the deal.
He is just 5 years old, after all.
Derrick is on the Timbers roster for this weekend’s match against Orlando City — symbolically making him the youngest player ever signed by a Major League Soccer team. The deal was facilitated by Make-A-Wish for Derrick, who has had three surgeries to treat a cancerous brain tumor.
“We’re very excited. It’s a big day for the club,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “We’ve had our eye on Derrick for a long time. He’s been on our radar for several years. … We think he’s one of the brightest up-and-coming most talented young goalkeepers to come through our club in a long time, certainly.”
Porter joked: “I think we might throw him into the fire and start him on Sunday. I told him I wanted 20 saves.”
When Derrick arrived at the team’s practice facility, he was whisked onto the field for the Timbers’ official team photo wearing his bright orange keeper’s gloves and an oversized No. 100 jersey.
He was then swept over to a signing ceremony with Porter and team general manager Gavin Wilkinson before taking to the practice field, where he worked with team staff and goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. Derrick’s older brother, Josue, even joined in.
Basically, enough excitement to make any young athlete ready for his nap.
“He couldn’t wait for today,” said mom Olympia Nallely Perdomo. “They (the boys) were saying, ‘Oh I’m going to do what the goalies (do), I’m going to stop the goals. They were pretty excited about today.”
Sunday’s game will be the family’s first visit to Providence Park for a game. Derrick will join in pregame warmups before parading with his new teammates on the field for the national anthem.
This is not the first time the Timbers have granted a wish for a young fan. In 2013, 8-year-old Atticus Lane Dupree and his team, the Green Machine, played the Timbers in a special matinee game at Providence Park. The Green Machine won, 10-9, with Atticus scoring off a corner kick in the final minute.
Derrick’s father, Josue Tellez Sanchez, watched from the sidelines as both his sons joined practice under overcast skies Friday morning. He had tears in his eyes.
“It’s exciting,” he said, before pausing to gather his emotions. “I can’t explain it, I’m sorry.”