Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Chicago Fire, Jeld-Wen Field, Jorge Perlaza, Major League Soccer, national anthem, North American Soccer League, Portland Timbers, Timbers Army, Whitney Houston
Backed by a raucous sellout crowd of 18,627 at Jeld-Wen Field, the expansion Portland Timbers defeated the Chicago Fire, 4-2, in their Major League Soccer home opener. Forward Jorge Perlaza scored twice for the Timbers, who were playing in their first big-league soccer match in Portland since the original Timbers folded after the 1982 North American Soccer League season. [April 14]
Comment: Plenty of goals, but the highlight of the evening came before kickoff, when the national anthem was boomed out, a cappella, by thousands of members of the Timbers Army. It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but the supporters’ eardrum-shattering rendition gave their side a tremendous emotional advantage and invited comparisons to the atmosphere at some of Europe’s most storied soccer venues.
It is hoped that the Timbers Army’s performance was noted not only by the 17 other MLS clubs but by those in sports throughout the United States. For decades now spectators at professional and collegiate sporting events have been subjected to all kinds of Whitney Houston wannabes who sing the anthem as though they were auditioning for “American Idol.” Some are good, many are quite bad, and some sing so slowly or throw in so much melisma they could be timed by a calendar. But above all, they completely suck the energy and anticipation out of the crowd, who moments before was getting pumped up during player introductions but now stands in complete silence and waits and waits for that obligatory high note during “O’er the laa-hand of the free-EEEEE.”
So please, in-stadium game presentation people from coast to coast, dump the Whitney Houstons and let your fans sing the anthem. Better yet, let the Timbers Army sing it for them. They can’t hit any high notes, it’s true, but they’ll shake the rafters.
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