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Musket Rounds: MLS First Kick 2011 Edition

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The buzz in the American soccer landscape today is the impending launch of the MLS season.

First Kick will take place this evening in Seattle at a sold-out Qwest Field between the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders. Well, it will be evening for all the west coast fans watching, because here on the east coast we're looking at a mind-numbing 9:30 PM kickoff.

Just enough time to take a nap after work, I suppose.

This match is shaping up to be a real barnstormer - Qwest will pack 36,000+ rabid fans, both teams feature some of the league's greatest talents and have the ability to light up the scoreboard from all parts of the field, and David Beckham will be starting an MLS season opener for the first time in his career (in his fifth year in the States, no less).

Unfortunately, it also means that few people (or even fewer than usual) will be tuning in to see Real Salt Lake take on Saprissa in the CONCACAF Champions' League semi-final. The first leg kicks off at 10 PM on FSC and carries with it huge hopes and expectations among diehard American soccer fans. Saprissa is a powerhouse in this competition, but RSL represents probably the best chance MLS has had in years to make a run at the final. If they can come away from Rio Tinto with a two goal lead I think they can advance, but it won't be easy.

Elsewhere in the soccer world news has been a bit slow, but I've dug up what I can! Links after the jump.

On the topic of the First Kick matchup, USMNT legend Kasey Keller talks about his only career disappointment - never winning a league title. He hopes this season with Seattle will fill that void. [Seattle Times]

Kyle Beckerman is obviously taking tonight's clash with Saprissa seriously. James Edward spoke with him and previewed the match. [Deseret News]

With the addition of Vancouver and Portland, First Kick's location on the left coast, and the last two MLS Cup winners being Western Conference teams, Jack Bell argues that the center of gravity in MLS has shifted. Merritt Paulson agrees. [New York Times]

Frank Dell'Apa takes a hard look at the state of the Revs going into the 2011 season, pointing out that the days of setting standards in the league for facilities, attendance and talent have now passed them by. [Boston Globe]

A week or so ago we spotlighted part one of Mountain WAG's adventures at the Richmond Kickers' open tryouts. In part two, she examines the experience of the wife of a 39-year old goalkeeper trialing with the club. [Unprofessional Foul]

Staying in Richmond, Jason Davis put up an excellent piece concerning his recent trip to the Jefferson Cup youth tournament in the area. He laments the pay-to-play nature of our youth soccer system but was able to find a kernel of good sense among the chaos in one coach from St. Louis. [Match Fit USA]

Finally, here's a quick update on the fortunes of the Revolution's youth teams. Check out the silver-frosted mohawk on the kid in the lead picture. That's the future right there. [revolutionsoccer.net]