Portland Timbers’ Frederic Piquionne delivers breakthrough performance against Wilmington
PORTLAND, Ore. – The 2013 Portland Timbers continue their assault on the club’s record books, turning their attention Wednesday night to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
And courtesy of forward Frederic Piquionne, they reversed recent USOC misfortunes in a big way.
The former French and current Martinique international scored four goals, all in the first half, in a 5-1 victory over USL Pro side Wilmington Hammerheads in front of 10,924 at JELD-WEN Field. He became the third MLS player ever to accomplish the feat in the U.S. Open Cup.
“It feels good,” Piquionne said after the game, the four log slices from the Timbers’ postgame ritual surrounding him on the locker room floor.
He is the first Timbers player – across all eras – to record four goals in a U.S. Open Cup match and the second player in club history to tally four goals in a single league or cup match. The other was forward McKinley Tennyson on Aug. 13, 2002, in a 6-1 win over the El Paso Patriots.
WATCH: Piquionne, W. Johnson & Kocic postgame
He’s also the first Timbers player to record a hat trick in their MLS era.
They also happen to be Piquionne’s first goals in a Timbers jersey – all from a player signed just before the season started to combat season-ending preseason injuries to two forwards.
“I waited for this first goal with the team since the start of the season,” he said. “I need to keep scoring like this, and I hope we’re going to win this trophy.”
There was a sense that Piquionne had been building up to a breakout performance. He certainly has the pedigree to inflict such damage on a third-tier professional club. The 34-year-old has played for a number of top-flight clubs in Europe, including at West Ham United the previous two seasons and Renne, Saint-Étienne, AS Monaco and Lyon in France’s top flight.
“I knew it was going to happen at some point because he’s a goal scorer,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said.
He’s played in 11 of Portland’s 12 league games and started two, most recently in Saturday’s 2-0 win at D.C. United. And he’s looked dangerous in spurts, firing off four shots in his first start of the season May 8 at FC Dallas and recording an assist against D.C.
Porter said he’s been bringing him along slowly until he gets match fit.
“This young man, we call him young even though a few people call him old, but he’s got his legs and he’s a quality player,” Porter said. “And you can see tonight why he’s been at Lyon and West Ham and these top clubs around the world.”
He’s also confirmed he’s yet another arrow in Porter’s quiver at his disposal. Piquionne started in place of normal central forward Ryan Johnson. And while starters Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara and Rodney Wallace all watched from the bench, every player on the field had started at least two games except for forward Jose Valencia and goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
“I think our depth showed tonight,” Porter said. “We put our trust in some guys who maybe haven’t started as much. … Down the stretch our depth is going to be very important. And for me that’s a big positive tonight as well, you saw our quality from guys who maybe haven’t played as much.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.