Tony McManus, USL Timbers
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

#ThrowbackThursday | Looking back to when the Portland Timbers took on the Austin Aztex (and future Orlando City) for the first time

MLS expansion side Orlando City SC, who the Portland Timbers will welcome to Providence Park on Sunday (2pm PT, ESPN2), has a colorful franchise history despite being a newcomer to Major League Soccer. For the past four seasons, OCSC was a stalwart in USL PRO (now known as the USL), winning the league on two occasions and compiling a record of 67-12-23. But before moving to Orlando prior to the 2011 season, the club played two seasons as the Austin Aztex and took on the pre-MLS Timbers five times in the USL. 

In the midst of their franchise-record 24-match unbeaten streak in the 2009 season, the Timbers traveled to Texas to take on an expansion franchise known as the Austin Aztex for the first time. Heading into the July 11th match, the Timbers had won or drew their last 13 games and were taking on an opponent that won just one of its previous nine matches. 

The day of the match saw temperatures reach more than 100 degrees and the game itself was played under windy conditions. Portland took a lead early in the match when, in the 14th minute, Tony McManus stole the ball at the edge of Austin's 18-yard box and played the ball to an unmarked Mandjou Keita. Keita beat goalkeeper Sam Reynolds at his near post for the forward's seventh goal of the season. 

Portland's lead held up until second half stoppage time when the match was turned on its head. The fireworks started when substitute Gifton Noel Williams headed home a Kyle Brown corner kick to give Austin whet they thought would be a point against one of the best teams in the USL. But the celebration did not last for the Aztex. Moments after Austin's goal, McManus again dispossessed an Aztex player, this time playing a through ball for Johan Claesson. Claesson fired a shot between two scrambling Austin defenders that found the back of the net and delivered a 2-1 victory to the Timbers. It was the only goal the Swedish midfielder would score in his two seasons with Portland. 

While no players from that July match remain as players with either Portland or Orlando, there are still quite a few connections. The two managers on that day were current Timbers General Manager Gavin Wilkinson, while Austin was managed by current OCSC manager Adrian Heath. In addition, current Portland assistant coach Cameron Knowles started the match and went the full 90 minutes for the Timbers.  

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