Minnesota United FC midfielder Jamie Watson scored his first goal of the season, and a sellout home crowd roared.

A stunning Ottawa comeback, however, spoiled Watson's big night and the Loons' plans for a successful start to the season's stretch run.

Two late Ottawa goals dealt Minnesota United FC a 3-2 loss. Trailing 2-1, the Fury received header goals from Ryan Williams (84th minute) and Danny Mwanga (88th) and took its first victory since July 30.

Minnesota, holding the fourth and final North American Soccer League playoff spot, lost its lead twice before an announced sellout crowd of 9,388 fans at the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine.

The teams play again Sept. 24 at Ottawa. But Watson said "I wish we could turn around and play them tomorrow. Losing tonight is unacceptable, and we've got to fix it."

Watson put Minnesota (5-5-5) ahead 1-0 in the 30th minute on what he called a "world class" feed from Christian Ramirez. Watson pushed the ball past onrushing goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, then sent it parallel to the goal line, where trailing defender Rafael Alves knocked it home.

Ottawa (4-6-5) tied the score 1-1 on Giuseppe Gentile's goal in the 35th minute. Then Ramirez restored Minnesota's lead with his league-best 15th goal this season. Officials awarded Ramirez, knocked down by Alves in the 18-yard box, a penalty kick. He gave the Loons' a 2-1 lead in the 43rd minute.

But in the second half, the Loons lost their focus and the lead.

"We kept giving them the ball," coach Carl Craig said. "Stupid mistakes. No real pressure on the ball."

Craig took responsibility for lineup choices that ultimately failed to produce results."

"They've got pedigree, they've got experience," Craig said. "They were average at best. I've got to hold me hands up. I make those calls. I put me faith in the players, and we were not good enough tonight."

Ottawa's comeback left Ramirez, who hoped his team would make Saturday the start of eight solid performances to close the regular season, questioning where Minnesota goes from here.

"Things like this can turn a season around as well as it could take us downhill," he said. "It's about how we react in the locker room. [We need to] stick together and bounce back from it."


Minnesota defender Kevin Venegas made his first start in a league match since July 16. A meniscus injury in his left knee kept Venegas, tied for second in the NASL with six assists, out of eight matches.