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Piquionne near-perfect, and so are Timbers

Portland makes U.S. Open Cup amends with 5-1 home rout of Hammerheads


by: COURTESY OF CRAIG MITCHELLDYER/PORTLAND TIMBERS - Frederic Piquionne scores four goals in the first half, and the Portland Timbers beat the Wilmington Hammerheads 5-1 in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match Wednesday at Jeld-Wen Field.After the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third-round match between the Portland Timbers and the Wilmington Hammerheads on Wednesday night, the biggest question the Hammerheads had to be asking themselves was who, WHO, for the love of Pele, WHO was marking Frederic Piquionne?

The Timbers striker from New Caledonia, who had never scored in a Portland uniform, tallied four first- half goals.

Mamadou “Futty” Danso added a second- half goal, Will Johnson recorded three assists and the Timbers finished with a resounding 5-1 victory at Jeld-Wen Field.

Piquionne left the match in the 54th minute, with the Timbers Army chanting his name. He became only the second player to wear a Timbers uniform -- at any level -- to score four goals in a match. McKinley Tennyson did it in 2002.

“He’s a goal scorer,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said, of Piquionne. “Four goals, you’re always surprised, but I knew he was capable of scoring goals. You’re not expecting four goals in one game by a guy. That’s pretty rare.”

If the Timbers franchise exists for another 1,000 years, it will never live down losing 1-0 against Cal FC, an amateur club, in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup.

However, against the Hammerheads of USL-Pro, the 2013 Portland squad proved it was not going to allow an inferior opponent embarrass the Timbers on their home pitch.

Starting about half the players who would normally begin an MLS match, the Timbers made it clear that the Hammerheads did not belong on the same pitch as them. Everything that good soccer clubs do against weaker opponents, Portland did.

The Timbers controlled the possession, they created opportunities, they finished their opportunities and when they had Wilmington down, the Timbers did not take their foot off the Hammerheads' collective jugular.

“I told the guys we should respect every lower league team that we play because the Timbers were once a lower league team,” Porter said. “But, we’re also a MLS team, so at the end of the game, there should be no doubt who was the Major League Soccer team.”

Storm Large, “The First Lady of Portland,” had barely finished singing the National Anthem to the announced crowd of 10,924 when the Timbers stunned the Hammerheads by going a goal up.

In the second minute, Portland earned a corner kick from the left side. Johnson sent a beautiful ball into the 6-yard box. The 6-2, 170-pound Piquionne raced into the box unmarked. Three yards from goal, he leaped up and sent a header into the bottom corner of the right post, past Wilmington goalkeeper Tony Hernandez.

Fifteen minutes later, Piquionne struck again. Defender Michael Harrington took possession of the ball around midfield. He sent a service pass into the box. Piquionne was running across the pitch from right to left. He got on the end of Harrington’s pass and, from 10 yards, flipped a header to the bottom corner of the right post.

Piquionne got his hat trick in the 34th minute. Timbers midfielder Kalif Alhassan sent a volley into the 18-yard box. Piquionne got to the ball before anyone else, took a touch and sent a rolling shot to the bottom corner of the far post.

Piquionne wasn't finished.

In first-half stoppage time, Johnson took a free kick from near midfield. He sent a bullet into the 6-yard box. Piquionne knocked a header to the left of Hernandez to give the Timbers a 4-0 lead.

Piquionne, 34, who joined the Timbers this season after three years in England and eight in France, had never scored four goals in a match.

“Hat trick, yes,” he said. “But four goals, no. This season, I’ve had many chances and haven’t scored yet. Tonight, I had maybe five chances, and four went in the goal”

Throughout the second half, Portland continued putting pressure on the Wilmington back line, never allowing the Hammerheads a chance to breathe.

In the 61st minute, though, Wilmington made the score slightly more respectable. After a corner kick, the ball came into the 6-yard box. Danso tried to clear the ball, but it landed at the feet of Paul Nicholson. The Hammerheads midfielder played the ball up in the air to himself, then, with a half-bicycle kick, sent a shot over his shoulder to the right of Timbers goalkeeper Milos Kocic to make the score 4-1.

“I mis-cleared the ball, and it fell right in front of the guy,” Danso said. “He got a lucky touch.”

Danso redeemed himself in the 73rd minute, and Johnson notched his third assist of the night.

Johnson sent a corner kick into the 6-yard box. Danso out-jmped everyone and knocked a header to the right of Hernandez to give Portland a 5-1 lead.

“I guess I was just lucky,” Danso said. “I went back post on the ball, and I don’t know what happened. All I know is that I was the last one who touched the ball.”

The Timbers will play an MLS match June 8 at the Chicago Fire.

Portland will continue U.S. Open Cup play June 12 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Jeld-Wen Field.

While the Rowdies are a NASL side, they will come to Portland with a bit of cache after defeating the Seattle Sounders 1-0 Wednesday.

Porter said showing well in the U.S. Open Cup is extremely important to the Timbers as a franchise.

“Our goal is to win trophies here. This is an opportunity to do that,” Porter said. “We’re in it to win it. We’re pleased that we get to come back here and be at home again. That’s a big advantage.”