Ithaca, N.Y. — Scores of people have been crowding into one of Ithaca’s most beloved sports bars, Uncle Joe’s Grill and Sports Bar, to have a beer with friends while cheering on team USA for the World Cup.

Located on the corner of W. Green St. and S. Albany St., Uncle Joe’s is everything you’d expect from an Ithaca sports bar: It’s got TVs, sports memorabilia on the walls, an array of cheap beer and some of the best wings in town.

Ithacans cheer on the US soccer team at Uncle' Joe's Monday night. (Neil Rockow)
Ithacans cheer on the US soccer team at Uncle’ Joe’s. (Neil Rockow)

But it’s the special Ithaca charm that defines Uncle Joe’s. That special charm has been on full display as World Cup excitement grips the Ithaca eatery.

Upon entering, you’re greeted by local Ithacans, college students and out-of-towners alike. All are welcome as patrons sporting neon tank tops relax near those with matted dreadlocks and enjoy a beer.

“I always meet somebody here who’s a fan and we instantly have a sense of camaraderie, or strike up a conversation and have instant friendship,” Thor Oechsner said.

Oechsner, a Cornell alumnus, travels from his farm in Newfield to catch games at Uncle Joe’s. He sits eyes transfixed on the screen, and one ear to the crowd, fresh out of work, pants still caked in dirt from the day.

Donning the red, white and blue, around 75 fans from all walks of life joined Oechsner for the U.S. v. Portugal game.

That built upon a raucous crowd for the game before.

“I think we were busier this year than the Super Bowl,” waitress Megan McCheyne said about the U.S. game against Ghana.

Related: Where in Ithaca to watch the U.S. men’s soccer team take on Ghana

National pride was on full display. Fans wore US jerseys and American flag headbands, cheered at every US goal and lamented every missed chance.

And when the U.S. scored their winning goal against Ghana, the bar broke into a chant of “U.S.A….U.S.A.”

It was the kind of atmosphere any U.S. soccer fan could appreciate. And with Thursday’s matchup of the U.S. and Germany deciding America’s fate at this year’s World Cup, Uncle Joe’s will most likely be teeming with fans once again.


Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.