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Thursday Morning Union Freekicks: FIFA Friendlies Ransack MLS Rosters, 2030 Bid Process Begins Already?

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Rafa Marquez is one of six players that will be missing from the Red Bulls due to FIFA friendly matches. Seen here in training at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
Rafa Marquez is one of six players that will be missing from the Red Bulls due to FIFA friendly matches. Seen here in training at Red Bull Arena on Tuesday. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls)
Getty Images for New York Red Bu

We're now only two days away from the Philadelphia Union's first game of the 2011 season in Houston, and excitement is at a fever pitch. Are you headed anywhere in particular to watch the game? Fado's? Dark Horse? Regardless of where you go or who you're with, the game promises to be lots of fun.

Anyway, here are a few Union, MLS, and general soccer links to get your Thursday started:

March FIFA dates lead to MLS roster diaspora [Matthew Doyle - MLSsoccer.com] The FIFA dates on March 26 and 29 happen to interfere with one of the first full weekends of the MLS schedule, and many players will be missing from their teams. Six Red Bulls will miss their clash with the Columbus Crew, while a key member of the Vancouver Whitecaps will not feature against the Union at PPL Park.

Le Toux fully fit heading into Union's opener [Dave Zeitlin - MLSsoccer.com] Well, this is certainly good news. The Union will need Le Toux's creative presence on the right side of midfield against the Dynamo.

Argentina, Uruguay To Launch Joint Bid For 2030 World Cup [Graham MacAree - SBNation.com] The two rival nations are supposedly preparing to officially launch a bid to host the 2030 edition of the world's most important sporting competition. It will be the 100th anniversary of the first World Cup, also hosted by Uruguay. USA could be strong contenders for 2026, but China have been rumored to be preparing a big push for 2030 as well.

Union 'Relaxed but Focused' Heading into Second Season [Andy Jasner - philadelphiaunion.com] This piece acts both as a preview of the Houston game and of the 2011 season as a whole. Give it a read.

Union's Ruiz knows how to score goals [Marc Narducci - The Philadelphia Inquirer] Carlos Ruiz will be depended on this season to take some of the scoring load off of Seba Le Toux and Danny Mwanga. Luckily, he has a fantastic history of putting the ball into the net in MLS.

Former MVP Carlos Ruiz knows his role with Philadelphia Union [Kerith Gabriel - Philadelphia Daily News] Another similar piece on the Union's newest Guatemalan striker. But Gabriel has put some interesting quotes from El Pescadito into his story and it's more than worth reading.