Portland Timbers Make-a-Wish Video Goes Viral

Atticus Lane-Dupre (center) shared his wish with his teammates when they played the Portland Timbers on May 1.

Atticus Lane-Dupre (center) shared his wish with his teammates when they played the Portland Timbers on May 1.

The Portland Timbers have only been in Major League Soccer since 2011 but don’t tell that to their fans as the city has a history of soccer fandom that stretches back to the mid-70s. And now it has a fandom that actually extends far outside of the Portland area thanks to its involvement with Make-a-Wish Oregon and a viral video about that event.

“Even at the minor league level there is great support here and when we joined MLS in 2011 a lot of positive things came together,” says Matt Smith, Portland Timbers, director of broadcasting.

Root Sports Northwest produces all of the games and the team has two local broadcast partners in Root on cable and KPTV Portland, the local Fox over-the-air station. MLS handles the streaming of the live games.

But Smith and his team (the Timbers have two full-time staffers as well as freelancers) create all non-MLS video content, including coverage of the reserve league, friendly matches against non-MLS teams, player pieces, and a weekly half-hour show on the team. The goal is to let fans see the players as people. So when the Portland Timbers were contacted by Make-a-Wish Oregon that is exactly what the production team, the fan base, and nearly everyone involved with the Timbers did. And the result has become a bit of an Internet phenomenon.

Atticus Lane-Dupre, an eight-year old member of the Green Machine soccer club of Portland, was unable to finish the fall season due to cancer and his teammates played an important part in his healing process. So when Make-a-Wish Oregon contacted him about a wish he offered up something beyond a favorite athlete: he wanted his team to play the Portland Timbers.

“As the event date drew near there was a lot of interest in the story so we wanted to get the message out of what was happening here,” adds Smith.

Portland decided to schedule a friendly at their home park, JELD-WEN Field, and invite the public to view the daytime event. The team also enlisted the help of the Timbers Army and the 107ist supporters’ trust, and the fan group rallied their membership to help aid the cause.  I had been monitoring the Facebook group created by the Timbers Army inviting anyone to come down to JELD-WEN Field for the very special occasion, and the number of confirms grew to over 1, 500 the day before the match.

“There were 3,000-plus people at the event as the fans are really tied to the team and there is an authentic feel to our community,” says Smith. “When we do something like this our fans never fail to surprise us.”

The day for the Green Machine included their own jerseys and a locker room decked out for the squad. Lane-Dupre was able to attend a player meeting and also meet the Timbers players and coaches. A Timbers videographer, armed with a Panasonic AG-HPX170 P2 camera followed Lane-Dupre for the day.

“He does amazing work and his mission was to go on his own and capture the days events, shadowing Atticus as he was given inside access, visited the locker room, and the coaches an players meeting,” says Smith. “We also hired a freelancer to shoot some video with a DSLR for a different look for the video news release.”

A highlights package was extracted from the in-house stadium video wall production that makes use of two cameras. But a longer piece was culled from the work done using the P2 camera with editing taking place on Apple Final Cut Pro. And there is even a highlights video on the MLS site with all the bells, whistles, and analysis given to actual MLS players.

“You hear how live sports is the driver but we find that when do something like this we are able to get the word out via Twitter [and social media] and that enriches the process,” says Smith.

To view the video click here.