"Respect every lower league professional team we play," Caleb Porter said he told his players before the game. "But we need to appreciate the fact were in Major League Soccer."
"At the end of the game there should be no doubt -- in the players, coach, and supporters -- which team is the Major League Soccer team."
The Portland Timbers left no doubt.
Two minutes into the game the Portland Timbers earned a corner kick, which was subsequently taken by Will Johnson. His perfectly placed corner was met at the back post by Frederic Piquionne, who rose above the Wilmington Hammerhead defenders to head the ball into the back of the net.
For the Hammerheads, who wore neon-green kits befitting of a traffic cone, the goal was a back breaker. Instead of being able to sit behind the ball and force Portland to try and break them down, they had to open up. In order for the Hammerheads to actually open up and commit numbers forward, though, they had to have the ball. Portland was not giving it up.
Portland routinely put on a passing clinic of 10 or more passes in their build ups. The ball would go up one wing, back out, up the other wing, through the middle. The Timbers would switch the field with one long pass and then play the ball behind the defense to the wingers. Crosses would go into the box and the clearance would be gathered up and the passing sequences would begin again.
In fact, in the 17th minute a 16-pass sequence, with almost everything described above, culminated in a cross by Michael Harrington into the box. Reading the play well, Piquionne made a back shoulder run around his traffic cone of a defender and headed in his second of the night. It was like a training ground build-up and a clinical finish by Piquionne.
He wasn't done. Seventeen minutes later he and Kalif Alhassan combined for the best goal of the night. Piquionne received a perfect cross-field ball on the touch line 30 yards from goal. Holding up the ball for a second, he passed to Alhassan before making a run towards the penalty area. Alhassan took a touch, squared his shoulders to the goal, and hit a perfectly weighted chip over Piquionne, landing it perfectly at his right foot as he entered the box.
With the ball arriving on his right foot and a defender on his right hip, Piquionne settled the ball masterfully with one touch towards the middle of the box. As the defenders converge on him he coolly slotted the ball into the far corner of the net for his third of the night.
It wasn't all roses for Portland as the Hammerheads were able to create some chances, especially off of set pieces. Milos Kocic, on a corner in the 36th minute, actually made a save with his rump when a header got through his legs and was about to go in the net.
Piquionne's fourth came in stoppage time of the first half off of a free kick by WIll Johnson. Again it was perfectly served right near the penalty spot. Piquionne was once again able to lose his marker and then beat another to the ball for his fourth of the night.
Admittedly the second half was not as entertaining as the first, due to Caleb Porter instructing his team to pass the game away. The result was a lot of possession without a lot purpose other than to kill off the game, which the team did rather effectively.
Wilmington was able to pull one back, though. Paul Nicholson used quite a bit of skill when he juggled a lose ball off a corner kick with his back to goal in the box and then side volleyed it to the far post. Though the Timbers defense didn't do nearly as well with it as they should have, it was a pretty sweet goal.
Futty added the Timbers' fifth goal in the 73rd minute off another Will Johnson corner.
Over the final 15 minutes of the game Portland's young strikers, Sebastian Rincon and Jose Adolfo Valencia, put on a show of their skills and their potential. But each time they had the opportunity to shoot, they either wanted the perfect shot or were too amped up to place the ball on frame.
- 4 games in 9 days for Wilmington didn't help and neither did playing against a very good team that had something to prove.
- Piquionne is only the second Timber to score 4 goals and the first to do so in an Open Cup. He is also the 11th player in USOC modern Era with 4+ goals.
- Porter gave Andrew Jean Baptiste an earful before he went into the locker room. The coach said he saw some errors from the young centerback and used it as a teachable moment. As he often says, it is better to learn from a mistake in a win than in a loss.
- The TA have run out of green smoke! Apparently even they did not think Portland would be scoring this many goals.
- Storm Large has some pipes. One of the better anthems we've heard at Jeld Wen Field.
- Not sure which neon kits are worse, Wilmington's or Seattle's. I am going with Seattle.
- Not sure what the Tifo was but some of the other press suggested it was a homage to the Dead Sea Scrolls? Others thought it was a list of the 99 USOC Winners.The latter is probably more likely.
- CP really shot down the idea of reserves vs starters. When I get the video up, take a listen -- he is a fascinating coach.
- Portland last played a team called the Tampa Bay Rowdies on August 8th 1982. They won 5-0.
Post Game Conference Video