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Loss to Montreal Leaves the Salsa in Sour Mood : Soccer: The Impact stages late rally to win, 4-3, after trailing at halftime.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Paul Wright’s voice barely rose above a whisper as he stared at the grass, trying to come up with an answer for the Salsa’s second-half collapse on Sunday against the road-weary Montreal Impact.

“I guess we needed to score five goals,” Wright said after the Salsa’s 4-3 loss to Montreal before 2,200 at Titan Stadium.

The distress on Wright’s face was evident, but he refused to make excuses for a defensive meltdown that enabled Montreal to score three goals after trailing, 2-1, at halftime.

“They played in the same conditions we did,” Wright said referring to the hot and smoggy conditions. “This was the most disappointing loss we’ve had this season.”

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The loss dropped the Salsa (4-5) into fourth place in the American Professional Soccer League standings. They were briefly atop the standings after defeating first-place Seattle on July 24.

Since then, the Salsa has lost three of four games and lost a 3-0 victory over Houston when that franchise disbanded in late July.

The Impact (5-4) took a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute when John Limniatis stole a throw-in at midfield and broke toward the Salsa goal.

Goalkeeper Bob Ammann stopped the defenseman’s first shot, but Limniatis collected Ammann’s clearing attempt and shot it back into the net.

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The Salsa tied it midway through the first half on a header by Paulinho off Zak Ibsen’s centering pass.

The Salsa continued to pound away at the Montreal goal during the opening half and finally took a 2-1 lead on Wright’s penalty kick in the 33rd minute.

After halftime, the Salsa seemed content to sit on the one-goal lead, but Montreal changed that when Nick Dasovic picked up a pass on the right sideline, beat one defender and hooked a shot toward the near post.

Ammann was playing toward the middle of the goal and his diving-save attempt was too late as the ball glanced off his palms and into the net.

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Montreal’s Mauro Biello then entered the game for Mario Rizi and gave his team the lead five minutes later when his centering pass clipped the heels of sliding Salsa defender Jeff Agoos and rolled past Ammann in the 73rd minute.

Minutes later, the Impact added to its lead when speedster Jean Harbor broke away at midfield and then sneaked the ball past Ammann for a 4-2 advantage.

Lawrence Lozzano’s disputed goal off a corner kick shortly before the final whistle cut the lead to 4-3. Montreal goalkeeper Pat Harrington was given a red card on the play and a one-game suspension.

“It definitely wasn’t a goal. I stopped the ball right on the goal line and then covered it up,” Harrington said. “Who knows, that point could come back to haunt us.”

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