FULLERTON — Once, the Salsa was undefeated in shootouts.
The team once was in second place.
The Salsa lost to Colorado in a shootout Sunday, 5-4, as three Foxes fired shots past goalkeeper Ian Feuer in the extra session.
Feuer entered the game as the APSL's best goalkeeper in shootout situations but, after the Salsa (11-6) finished regulation tied at 2-2 and then played the 15-minute overtime to a draw, Feuer couldn't plug the nets alone.
Three of five Foxes scored during the shootout, and only Paul Wright and Mike Fox could score for the Salsa in front of 2,738 in Titan Stadium.
And the new number for the Salsa is three--as in third place. After holding second for a couple of weeks, they fell into third on Saturday when Colorado (12-6) defeated Tampa Bay and now, after a loss to Colorado, the Salsa is entrenched in third.
"That was a tough one to swallow," Wright said. "We had our chances. We had our chances to win it."
It didn't help that Paulinho did not participate in the shootout. Paulinho is the APSL's second-leading scorer, but he is also as fragile as an eggshell.
Where was he?
"Something was wrong with his knee," Salsa defender Thor Lee said. "He just didn't feel fit enough."
The top four APSL teams make the playoffs, and the top two teams play host to first-round games. The Salsa must play five of its final seven games on the road, beginning with games at Montreal and Toronto this weekend.
"That was a big one," Wright said. "We've got a big weekend coming up. We've got to win those two now. We have no choice."
Twice, Colorado took a tenuous lead during regulation. Twice, the Salsa tied the score.
Colorado seized an early 1-0 lead when Taifor Diane snaked his way through four Salsa defenders in front of the net and scored on a point-blank shot at 29:10 in the first half.
Five minutes later, the Foxes were called for a penalty and Paulinho tied the game at 1-1 when he knocked in the free kick.
The only thing that did, as it turned out, was keep the Salsa in the game because, five minutes later, the Foxes scored again.
It was Diane again, only this time, the goal was set up by a Ted Eck pass.
And Colorado took a 2-1 lead into the locker room--but that didn't last long, either.
Maybe it was the air-conditioned locker room, maybe it was Coach Rildo Menezes halftime speech. Whatever, the Salsa tied the game at 2-2 a mere 40 seconds into the second half.
The goal came, again, off the foot of Paulinho, who converted Lee's precision pass into a successful chip shot.
But then came the overtime, Paulinho's unavailability and, soon enough, third place.
"We just didn't come through," Lee said. "That's all."
The Salsa's next home game is at 8:05 p.m. Aug. 27 against Montreal. That is the first of only two remaining home games. On Sept. 4, the Salsa closes out its regular-season home schedule with a game against Vancouver. . . . Paul Wright continues to lead the APSL in scoring. He entered Sunday's game with 26 points. Teammate Paulinho was second at 24. . . . Also entering Sunday's game, goalkeeper Ian Feuer was third among goalkeeping leaders with a goals-against average of 1.38. Feuer also led APSL goalkeepers in shootout accuracy with a 93% shutout ratio. . . . The Salsa played Colorado without defender Danny Pena, who was ejected from last Sunday's match at Toronto for stopping the ball with his hands.