The Cosmos were dealt a setback in their chase for the NASL's top seed Tuesday night.
After allowing three second- half goals following Andres Flores' equalizer, the Cosmos fell to Ottawa Fury FC, 4-1, at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium. The defeat leaves the Cosmos (11-3-10, 43 points) with only a one-point lead over Ottawa (11-4-9) for the league's best overall record.
The Cosmos already had clinched a playoff berth by winning the league's spring title, and can secure the No. 1 seed by topping the league's overall standings.
"It was an interesting game," coach Giovanni Savarese said. "There are a lot of things we have to learn from this game."
The Cosmos controlled possession early but did not create many chances, and Ottawa made them pay when Junior scored from close range in the 31st minute.
"We were doing very well in the first half controlling the ball," Savarese said. "They were very compact, very patient and were waiting for the right moment to cause us harm."
In the third minute of the second half, the Cosmos leveled the score as Ayoze lofted a ball in the box that Flores headed past Ottawa goalkeeper Romauld Peiser.
The Cosmos would create three more chances in the 10 minutes that followed but could not beat Peiser, and in the 56th minute Junior scored again to put Ottawa back in front.
As Ottawa dropped deeper to defend its lead, the hosts continued to test Peiser, who made a number of good saves, denying Raul in the 63rd and 75th minutes and Leo Fernandes in the 71st.
With the Cosmos failing to convert on offense, the visitors salted the match at the other end with Tom Heinemann's shot deflecting off the Cosmos' Carlos Mendes for a 77th- minute own goal, and Heinemann scoring a minute later.
"They are a solid team," Savarese said. "We knew they were going to be difficult to break down. Unfortunately, at the end, we needed to be more clinical, but we have to give credit to Ottawa."