Four first half goals from Frédéric Piquionne were more than enough to send the Portland Timbers past the Wilmington Hammerheads at Jeld-Wen Field. The 5-1 scoreline was utterly representative of just how much better the Timbers were than their USL Pro opponents on Wednesday night.
Portland’s line-up featured ten players with starting experience or significant first team minutes including captain Will Johnson, Darlington Nagbe and Michael Harrington. Yet it was Piquionne who played the starring role for the Timbers in an explosive first half.
The 34-year old striker scored his first goal of the season in the second minute, heading in a Will Johnson corner to set the pace for a record-setting night. With a rare early lead, Caleb Porter’s high-pressure system was unleashed, wreaking havoc on Wilmington’s attempts to build possession. Piquionne nodded in his second goal in the 17th minute, this time from a Harrington cross, to break the game open for the home side.
Wilmington, travel-fatigued from playing in Texas in the Second Round and twice in Florida over the weekend in league play, was not without quality chances, however, as defender Daniel Steres hit a nice volley just wide of the far post in the 27th minute and Kyle Greig twice came close to scoring from close range late in the half. Yet the up-field pressure from Nagbe and José Valencia was simply too much for most of the Hammerheads’ half.
Kalif Alhassan chipped a pass into the box on 34 minutes, providing Piquionne with a chance to score with his feet and complete his hat-trick in just three shots. The shot skipped past Tony Hernandez, providing the first Timbers hat-trick of the MLS era in a competitive match. Following Greig’s two chances, Piquionne finished the half in style, heading in a Johnson free kick to put Portland ahead 4-0 in injury time.
The second half was much more competitive as Wilmington worked back into the game, particularly through Shawn Nicklaw and first half substitute Cody Arnoux. Later in the half, Steven Perry provided additional offensive options and nearly scored on a 79th minute header.
Yet the Hammerheads’ goal came from midfielder Paul Nicholson in the 62nd minute, a brilliant overhead kick that was one of the finer goals of the Open Cup so far this season. Nicholson flipped the ball to himself after it deflected to him in the box, before scissor-kicking the ball into the top left corner from the right side of goal. Though it did not do much for Wilmington’s odds of advancing, the goal was well deserved both for the individual and the club.
Miloš Kocić recorded several key saves over the game’s final 20 minutes to maintain the wide margin, particularly on Perry’s angled header. Futty Danso finished the night’s scoring with a header of his own in the 73rd minute, giving Johnson his third assist and providing the final scoreline.
Five goals represent the most a Timbers team has ever scored in an Open Cup match, topping a 4-1 victory in 2010 against Kitsap Pumas. Piquionne’s four goals mark only the second time a Portland player has achieved that feat, and the first since McKinley Tennyson’s four-goal league game in 2002. He joined a list of 11 players to accomplish the feat in the Modern Pro Era (1995-present) and joins Seattle Sounders U23 striker David Geno (first half v Doxa Italia – 2013, First Round) and Fort Lauderdale Strikers (nee Miami FC) forward Paulo Jr (overtime v Central Florida – 2010, First Round) as only players in MPE to score all four in one period of play.
Portland advances to host upset winners Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Fourth Round on Wednesday June 12 at Jeld-Wen Field.
POR: Frederic Piquionne (Will Johnson) 2
POR: Frederic Piquionne (Michael Harrington) 17
POR: Frederic Piquionne (Kalif Alhassan) 34
POR: Frederic Piquionne (Will Johnson) 45+2
WIL: Paul Nicholson 61
POR: Futty Danso (Will Johnson) 73
WIL: Parratt (caution) 6
WIL: Wallace (caution) 58
WIL: Nicklaw (caution) 67
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Kocic, D Miller, D Jean-Baptiste, D Danso, D Harrington (McKenzie, 74), M Zemanski, M Nagbe (Zizzo, 45), M Johnson, W. ©, F Valencia, F Piquionne (Rincón, 45), F Alhassan
Substitutes Not Used: GK Gleeson, D Fehr, M Evans, M Valeri
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Piquionne, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Piquionne, 4); FOULS: 9 (Valencia, 3); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 10; SAVES: 7
WIL: GK Hernandez, D Daly (Taylor, 64), D Steres, D Utterson, D Wallace, M Evans, M Parratt (Arnoux, 25), M Nicholson, M Nicklaw, F Greig (Perry, 74), F Elenio
Substitutes Not Used: M Briggs
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Nicholson, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Nicholson, 3); FOULS: 13 (Four players, 2); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 1; SAVES: 1
Referee: Alejandro Mariscal Assistant Referees: Jeremy Hanson, Andrew Marihart 4th Official: Ronald Lagraff
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 62 degrees