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Late goal from Valeri sends Portland Timbers over Montreal Impact 3-2

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MONTREAL - The Montreal Impact are feeling their losses both on and off the field.

And it doesn't help that they're in a franchise worst slump.

On Sunday, Montreal matched a team high five-game losing streak, falling 3-2 to the visiting Portland Timbers. As assistant coach Mauro Biello sees it, the struggles have started to take their toll on the players both mentally and physically.

"Right now, we're very fragile," said Biello. "As much as it's on the field with the ball, it's in our head. When things don't go well, it's something that's always there. It's a mindset that has to change if we're going to want to win some games.

"You try to tell the players to focus on things they can control."

Biello was on the sidelines managing the Impact on Sunday after Frank Klopas was suspended for arguing with a referee during Montreal's game on Thursday. Biello is now 1-1-3 at the helm of the Impact.

"It's normal that players are frustrated," he said. "We gave up three goals at home. It's unacceptable. If you want to win a game, you can't give up three goals at home."

With the game tied 2-2 in the 82nd minute, Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri pounced on a giveaway by former teammate Mamadou Danso before curling the winner just out of the reach of goalkeeper Evan Bush.

Danso, who was making his first appearance for the Impact, missed his clearance after losing his footing on the rain-drenched pitch.

"I have to go back and watch that again," said Danso, who was traded from Portland to Montreal in June. "The cross came in and I stepped in to block it. I can not say at the top of my head what happened. I definitely have to go back and look at it and try to rectify it."

The last-place Impact (3-12-5) have been at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings since Apr. 5.

Recently, Montreal is making a habit of losing games late.

Against Chivas USA on July 5, the Impact conceded a goal to Erick Torres four minutes into stoppage time for the first of five consecutive losses. The following week, a defensive howler in the 89th minute gifted Sporting Kansas City the 2-1 victory. In Columbus last Saturday, a strike from distance in the 75th minute sent Montreal home sulking.

"We've been missing something these last few games," said Marco Di Vaio, who came on as a substitute in the 63rd minute versus the Timbers. "We're conceding goals out of nothing. It's mental right now. We have to find the solution in the dressing room, between us. It's a very tough time for us right now. What we did today simply isn't enough.

"It's definitely mental. Physically, we're the same as other teams. Something important is missing. Maybe we're trying to do too much, or maybe we're thinking too much. We have to find the solution as a team. We can't finish this way. We don't want to finish last. We have to be more confident. We have to find a way."

After taking a surprising lead in the 13th minute on Andres Romero's first goal in seven games, Montreal conceded twice in quick succession after the half-hour mark.

Argentine midfielder Maximiliano Urruti scored his team-leading ninth goal, and second in two games, in the 34th minute. Timbers forward Darlington Nagbe, Portland's most dangerous player in the first half, found a hole in the Impact defence and fed Urruti, who was waiting patiently in front of Bush's net.

Five minutes later, Canadian international Will Johnson gave Portland (6-6-9) the 2-1 lead from the penalty spot after he was taken down in the box by Impact defender Hassoun Camara.

Bush, making his third consecutive start in place of regular starting goalkeeper Troy Perkins, was given no chance on Johnson's penalty.

"It's hard to feel positive about our results right now," said Bush, who ended the night with six saves, including four in the first half. "It's not like anybody is giving up. It's not like we're throwing away the season, by any means. Guys are working hard, and you can see that, emotionally, guys are distraught after games like these.

"We've put so much work during the week into preparation and training, so it's difficult. Things are only going to stay this way until we have the right mentality."

Down 2-1 with halftime approaching, Montreal looked to right the ship when Maxim Tissot, a product of the Impact Academy, finished off an impressive team effort that involved four of Montreal's midfielders.

Captain Patrice Bernier, making his 150th appearance for the club, got the play going after the Timbers turned over possession in their own half. Bernier crossed to Felipe, who fed Justin Mapp, who gave it right back to the Brazilian. Felipe one-touched the ball down the left wing to a streaking Bernier, who squared to Tissot in the 18-yard box.

The 22-year-old Tissot, in his fifth start with the Impact this season, side-footed the equalizer past 'keeper Donavan Ricketts.

"I've had a few good chances this year that I haven't put away," Tissot said. "In terms of confidence, it will definitely help me. It's just a shame we couldn't get the result, or at least one point. Before I played for the team, I was a supporter of the team. So I know what they're living right now.

"It's not easy for them, and it's not easy for us."

Montreal has yet to beat a Western Conference opponent this season (0-6-1).

Notes: The loss was Montreal's first this season when scoring the opener at home (3-1-2). … After starting the last game on the bench, striker Jack McInerney was back in the starting lineup on Sunday. McInerney has not scored in his last five games. … It took 53 minutes for the Timbers to record their first foul of the game. Montreal had 15 at that point. … Montreal plays host to Jermain Defoe and Toronto FC next Saturday.

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