PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — After missing his team’s final soccer game last season because of cancer treatment, 8-year-old Atticus Lane-Dupre made sure his teammates were in on his wish to scrimmage against the Portland Timbers.
On Wednesday, the Timbers and Make-A-Wish Oregon treated Atticus’ team, the Green Machine, to a game at Jeld-Wen Field. More than 3,000 fans came out to lend their support.
The Green Machine beat the Timbers, 10-9. Atticus scored the winning goal off a corner kick in the final minute. Portland coach Caleb Porter, leading the Green Machine for the occasion, lifted Atticus in celebration.
“Just how we drew it up,” Porter laughed.
Atticus’ response afterward was typical of a star-struck 8-year old: “I had lots of fun.”
The Timbers Army supporter’s group turned out en masse and provided songs and chants, tweaked a bit to honor the Green Machine. Commemorative scarves were made for the event and the Timbers set up a locker room for their young opponents. Hanging in each locker was a green jersey with the boys’ names imprinted on the back.
A Make-A-Wish Oregon spokeswoman says it is the first time it has ever granted a game against a professional sports team. It also was the most community involvement the organization has seen.
“Atticus wanted to involve his entire team because they have been so supportive of him throughout his treatment,” spokeswoman Tracey Lam said. “That touched our hearts, and the Timbers really stepped up and made it magical for him.”
Atticus found out he had cancer when he was kicked in the stomach by a soccer ball during recess. When the pain did not subside after several days, his worried parents took him to the doctor. A cancerous tumor was found on one of his kidneys.
After his kidney was removed, Atticus had to endure several rounds of chemotherapy. That meant missing games with The Green Machine.
“I think he was kind of sick of all the attention for having cancer,” his mom Jennifer Lane said. “So he picked something his whole team could do.”
Among the Timbers players who lost to the Green Machine were Darlington Nagbe, Will Johnson, Jack Jewsbury and Mikael Silvestre. Porter and assistant Sean McAuley coached the teams.
“When a team like the Green Machine comes in it puts pressure on you,” Jewsbury said afterward, smiling. “It’s really tough.”
Apart from the loss to Atticus’ squad, the Timbers are riding a franchise-best six-game undefeated streak under Porter, new to the team this season after coaching at the University of Akron. Portland is coming off a 3-2 road victory over Sporting Kansas City and will face the New England Revolution at Jeld-Wen on Thursday night.
After the match, Will Johnson exchanged jerseys with Atticus.
“It’s the first and only time in my career I’ll ask for somebody’s jersey,” Johnson said as he proudly donned the too-small No. 1 Lane-Dupre jersey.