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Monday Morning Union Freekicks: T-5 Days To Houston

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While we're getting close to the start of the 2011 MLS season -- official First Kick for the League is tomorrow night with the Galaxy at Seattle on ESPN -- our focus today should remain in Japan. If you haven't already, please, donate whatever you can however you can. As we mentioned yesterday, you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross efforts in Japan. You can also donate directly on RedCross.org, or through iTunes (warning, link will open up iTunes). This is today's open discussion thread for all things Union and soccer.

SB Nation MLS Power Rankings, First Kick Edition: The 18 Storylines That Will Define The 18 Teams [Jeremiah Oshan, SBNation.com] - The Union are slotted at #10 in the league, which would be just enough to sneak into this year's expanded MLS Cup Playoffs.

Rogers not yet amongst MLSE suitors [Grant Robertson, Dave Shoalts, Boyd Erman and Tara Perkins, The Globe and Mail] - The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan is, indeed, interested in selling a majority stake of the owner of the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC, but Rogers may not be a possible purchaser.

SI.com staff experts' predictions for 2011 MLS season [Steve Davis, Grant Wahl, Avi Creditor and Jen Chang, SI.com] - The Union are ... not very well represented here.

Getting bigger, MLS seeks better TV ratings [Beau Dure, American Chronicle] - The League needs its national ratings on ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel to grow -- and soon -- if it wants to continue having national broadcast deals.

Caps' bench cause for concern [Bruce Constantineau, Vancouver Sun] - Ahhh, the lack of solid depth that comes with being an expansion team...

City kicks off MLS season with higher meter costs around PGE Park [The Portland Tribune] - The rate increases -- from $1.60 per hour to $3.50 per hour -- will only be in effect during match days, and could bring in an estimated $110,000 to the city in revenue. Here's hoping there's good public transportation.