The U.S. Men's National Team thrashed Scotland 5-1 in Jacksonville Saturday on the strength of a Landon Donovan hat trick, but the festival atmosphere at EverBank Field (where the attendance of 44,438 set a record for national friendlies in the state) was nearly snuffed out before the match ever began thanks to two ear-splitting renditions of the respective national anthems.
In retrospect, the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue squad's performance of "Flower of Scotland" is probably not that bad. We're probably used to it being accompanied by hordes of Scottish rugby players and fans screaming, and technically Scotland doesn't have a national anthem anyway. It's when Jacksonville high school student Victoria Zarlenga attempted to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" that the downward spiral began.
There's a response, of sorts, to this disaster and it can be found (along with some vaguely-threatening claims from a representative of Zarlenga) over at our own Brian Hickey's site, but here's the meat:
I totally hear you, this was not a good performance and I take full responsibility for it! I did not realize I would need ear buds as monitors to block out the stadium sounds. Therefore, I had to borrow a pair from the sound crew that were too large for my ears and were popping out. Watching this video you can see that I was trying to hold the left ear bud in with my hand.
That said, I was unable to hear myself and was only hearing the delay of my voice in the stadium. To add to the challenge, the crowd was singing in sync with my few seconds delay.
It was like I was singing the song twice word after word after word. I heard from a few fans that said the view on the Jumbotron was not in sync with what they were hearing. Apparently the TV recording and stadium sound were two separate systems – you had to be present at the stadium to see and hear the delay. I was very disoriented with all these variables!
That is some top-shelf irony to open up your explanation with an "I totally hear you." [NBC Sports]