Timbers' Make-A-Wish keeper Derrick Tellez, 5, trains with team on Friday
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Five-year-old goalkeeper Derrick Tellez had a historic ceremonial contract signing with the Portland Timbers on Friday before training with the team and lining up for a team photo.
Derrick is on the Timbers roster for this weekend's match against Orlando City after signing a one-day deal on Wednesday -- 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 headed onto the field for the Timbers' official team photo wearing his bright orange keeper's gloves and an oversized double-zero 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.
"He couldn't wait for today," said his mother 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 with tears in his eyes as both his sons joined practice under overcast skies Friday morning.
"It's exciting," he said, before pausing to gather his emotions. "I can't explain it, I'm sorry."