Frédéric Piquionne needed just two minutes to make his mark on the Third Round of the US Open Cup. It turned out he left a rather large mark not only on the round but the tournament and Portland Timbers history, scoring three more times in the first half of a 5-1 demolition of Wilmington Hammerheads at Jeld-Wen Field on May 29. That performance was enough to garner him TheCup.us Player of the Round for the 34-year-old forward and send Portland to the Fourth Round for the first time since 2005.
The award is voted on by the staff at TheCup.us and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters. Piquionne beat out Tampa Bay Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo and Orlando City forward Dom Dwyer for the honor.
Piquionne’s opener came from a Will Johnson corner, giving the Timbers an early lead and a chance to employ Caleb Porter’s high-pressure system on the overmatched Hammerheads. That pressure led to Piquionne’s second just fifteen minutes later, as he headed in defender Michael Harrington’s cross in the 17th minute.
The former Premier League forward netted his hat-trick using his feet for the first time, artfully executing a one-two with Kalif Alhassan. Retrieving the ball from a soft lob into the box and placing it into the far corner for a 3-0 lead, the 34th minute goal provided the first Timbers hat-trick in a competitive match since Bright Dike’s Second Round feat against Kitsap Pumas in 2010.
Johnson was again the provider for Piquionne in first half injury time, this time from a free kick. Piquionne was first to the ball into the middle of the box, nodding it past Wilmington goalkeeper Tony Fernandez. Though the four goals were the second such output in this US Open Cup, with Seattle Sounders U23s forward David Geno accomplishing the same feat in the First Round, it was the first four-goal game by a Timbers player since McKinley Tennyson on August 13, 2002. Geno and Piquionne remain the only two players in the Modern Professional Era (1995-present) to score four goals in the first half. They join Paulo Jr. as the only players to score four goals in a single period of play. Paulo Jr. scored four in the second extra time period in a 5-1 First Round win for Miami FC (now Fort Lauderdale Strikers) over the Central Florida Kraze (now Orlando City U-23s) in 2010.
The Timbers will host Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday June 12 at Jeld-Wen Field with a spot in the Quarterfinals on the line. Piquionne, who recorded two assists over the weekend in Chicago, could be rested against the Rowdies given Portland’s busy schedule and the absence of Ryan Johnson who is with Jamaica for World Cup qualifiers.