Though the United States didn't come away victorious in yesterday's grueling match against England, the team's intensity proved it had earned its place in fans' hearts, said people watching the game in Stony Brook.

"The hype leading up to the game didn't even live up to the match we just saw," said Nicholas Petrella, 29, a registered nurse from Bay Shore. "Make way for American soccer. No, American football."

Fans at The Bench Bar and Grill rooted fervently until the final whistle ended the game with the United States and England tied 1-1.

The United States let through an early goal, but Clint Dempsey scored late in the first half on a ball mishandled by English goalkeeper Robert Green.

"We could have saved that one!" Benjamin Witover, 7, a member of the Three Village Soccer Club, shouted to his friend. His father, Jason, on the club's board, exchanged friendly jabs with fellow board member Mark Nash, a native of London who was dressed in English soccer attire.


"May the best team win," Jason Witover shouted to Nash at the start of the game.

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"We will," Nash replied.

Petrella, an avid soccer fan who went to the 1994 World Cup in Brazil, said he was proud of the U.S. team's intensity and resiliency after coming out flat, and he lauded goalkeeper Tim Howard's performance.

He also said England's play was "fast and furious," showing they will remain tough competitors throughout the tournament.

At their prime location just off the bar, Berkshire, England-natives Richard and Lynne Hanson traded good-natured taunts with the overwhelmingly pro-U.S. crowd.


"It's disappointing because we were expected to win," said Richard Hanson, 39, of Smithtown. "But it will make the rest of the matches in the group very interesting and give the U.S. a good chance to go through to the next round."

The U.S. team faces Slovenia on Friday.

"I find it interesting that there's this much excitement at a soccer game for a change," said Kate Doino, 51, a software engineer from Stony Brook.

Doino came to The Bench to watch the game with her Long Island Ladies Soccer League teammates. They cheered and clapped as the U.S. team battled the stiff English opposition.

As the final whistle blew and the teams converged on screen to shake hands, the bar erupted in applause.


"It's like the Super Bowl. The atmosphere is really exciting," Doino said.