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In this corner of Mineola, Brazil on the World Cup pitch means nothing else matters

Fan celebrate a Brazilian goal while watching the

Fan celebrate a Brazilian goal while watching the World Cup at Madeira Sports Cafe in Mineola, Thursday, June 12, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

The streets outside Madeira's Cafe in Mineola were quiet Thursday but inside, patrons at the Portuguese restaurant's bar stood and cheered as 4,000 miles south, their beloved Brazilian national soccer team battled Croatia in the World Cup.

Like many other native Brazilians living in Mineola, Diovani Rezende, 50, made sure he was inside the Mineola Boulevard establishment by the time the match started about 4 p.m., beer in hand and dressed in a yellow Brazil jersey.

"It's a very emotional culture," Rezende said of Brazil's passionate fan base. "The energy, the colors. It's a culture of soccer."

Evidence of the Brazilian team's hold on this corner of Mineola was not restricted to inside the cafe.

Nearby, shiny Brazilian flags hung from shingles and porches and cascaded out of second-story windows.

On the streets, miniature green Brazil car flags poked out of windows, were secured by painter's tape to hoods, or attached to antennas.

A block away from Madeira's Cafe, Tiago Dias sat alone inside his house wearing a Brazil team jersey. Alone is the only way Dias said he could enjoy the team's first match.

"It is an indescribable feeling," said Dias, 27, also a Brazil native. "We're born with it in our blood."

Paulo Bomtempo, who lives close by and is also from Brazil, agreed. "In Brazil, when you start walking you're given a ball."

Soccer and the World Cup is what bonds him with his family in Brazil and his daughter in New Jersey, Bomtempo said.

Back inside the restaurant, Rezende and other fans cheered and sang along with the players in São Paulo as Brazil's national anthem played before the match. Tables of fans rose to their feet and waved their arms as they sang loudly enough to be heard down the street.

"Soccer is a unification for us," Rezende said, explaining that the sport is a universal language. "If you meet someone who speaks Dutch, you maybe can't talk, but you can play soccer and that becomes the words."

The unity goes beyond geographical -- it's generational, he said.

It's been 64 years since soccer-crazy Brazil hosted the World Cup. The outcome then was a bad one. Brazil lost in an upset to Uruguay.

Many Brazilians see this year's World Cup as a chance at redemption, Rezende said.

"It's a moral thing for us," Rezende said with a smile. "How Brazil does will affect how the people feel about their country."

Thursday was a good start for the Brazilian team. After a nerve-wracking and earth-shattering "own-goal" -- a goal accidentally scored by a team against itself -- gave Croatia a brief 1-0 lead, the fleet Brazilians eventually won 3-1 before the home crowd in São Paolo and the home crowd far away in Mineola.

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