Believe it or not, the 2011 Major League Soccer season starts tonight.
The first of 306 fixtures this season kicks off at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time tonight, as the Seattle Sounders host the Los Angeles Galaxy at Qwest Field. ESPN will broadcast the match beginning at 9:30, or perhaps a bit later if the Harvard-Oklahoma State basketball game runs long.
Of course, a lot of people will be watching truTV's coverage of the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It is not the first time that MLS' opening fixture has collided head-on with the college basketball season. Last year's first game, Philadelphia at Seattle, took place on the first night of the Sweet 16.
But there's only so much the league can do when it has to schedule 34 fixtures for each club, and with as few matches on weeknights as possible. The positive side of starting the season this early is that I know how many of you have been waiting throughout the winter for the next Union game.
Don't worry, you just have to make it to Saturday night. I promise the time will go quickly if you let it.
Anyway, the real reason why I'm writing today is to let you all know that Rank and File is coming back for another year, and I'd like you all to participate.
All you have to do is fill out a ballot after each game ranking each player's performance on a scale of 1 to 10. You also get to post comments on each player, and they can be as snarky or as serious as you want.
To get some examples of how Rank and File works, here is the archive page from last season. Check it out, and if you want to be involved this year, just email me. It would be great to have you.
For those of you wondering, I will not be in Houston on Saturday. I have family obligations this weekend - my grandmother's birthday, to be precise - so I won't even be in Philadelphia. But I'll watch a replay of the match when I get back here, and I'll have an analysis piece up as promptly as I can put it together.