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Lion Links: 3/31/16

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Orlando Pride secures another preseason victory, soccer deals with even more corruption, Kaká is ready for his 2016 debut, and an in-depth look at struggles the USWNT has to endure in order to play.

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Happy Thursday everyone! As we wait for Sunday's match versus the defending MLS champions, let's think up a fitting wine and food pairing for Portland. The Portland Timbers are basically a tree and guess where the Oregon White Oak is indigenous to. Oak aged wines have a vanilla note to them and Cabernet Sauvignon pairs very well with cheddar cheese and especially well with beef. Slow cook a good hunk of brisket for a dozen hours or so and keep some good sharp cheddar and crackers on hand to serve before the match for the optimal Portland pairing (eh, get it?...I'll see myself out.) By the way, check back here at 2 p.m. for Dave Rohe's Pride Pub and even more Portland related food puns!

Okay, okay, to the links.

Kaká is Ready for Action

Orlando City's captain has been sidelined the first three matches of the season after picking up an injury just hours before the opener against Real Salt Lake. Good news! He has declared himself fit ahead of Sunday's match against Portland. In addition to Kaká, David Mateos is available for selection in Adrian Heath's squad. It'll be the first time that Orlando City will play completely healthy this season and will also feature the reunion of Kaká and Antonio Nocerino. Last season the squad didn't see many positive results without its captain in the lineup and so far has been able to pick up five out of a possible nine points in 2016. Speaking of the Orlando City captain, could he be luring another old friend to come join him in the City Beautiful?

Pride Continues Rich Tradition of Orlando Victories over Tampa Area Teams

Stop me if you've heard this before: Orlando defeats Tampa. This time it's the Orlando Pride continuing the trend as Tom Sermanni's side took down the University of South Florida, 3-0. The club was without Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris, but that wouldn't deter the team. Goals came from Jasmyne Spencer, Monica, and Steph Catley. The Pride is undefeated through the preseason thus far and look to keep this momentum going with its final friendly coming up against Florida State University on Saturday. All of this is ahead of the season opener against Portland on April 17.

The USWNT Has Won Three World Cups; You Would Never Know it From the Way USSF Operates

The New York Daily News has an amazing long read detailing the hardships that the athletes on the United States Women's National Team have to go through just to represent their country on an international stage, from having to play matches on turf and sub-standard training facilities. It's important to remember that the women's team recently lost Megan Rapinoe during training for a match at a sub-par training facility, keeping her out of Olympic qualifiers and the Seattle Reign star could miss Rio completely.

Hungarian Court Sentences Individuals Responsible for Match Fixing

A Budapest judge has levied out bans, fines, and even prison sentences to 12 players, a coach, and two organizers in incidents that took place over a two year span between 2007-2009. Players received upwards of $2,840 per match to alter games in league and tournament play. The director of the squad in question committed suicide in 2012 when charges were announced. Two other cases involving similar incidents are ongoing.

Free Kicks

Hockey great Gordie Howe is 88, Christopher Walken is 73, Angus Young of AC/DC is 61, FIFA referee Martin Atkinson is 45, Ewan "Obi-Wan Kenobi" McGregor is also 45, USMNT legend Eddie Johnson is 32...Today is Cesar Chavez Day...The owner of the top Men's NCAA College Basketball bracket forgot to pick a winner...Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe have pledged to donate their brains posthumously to concussion research...Finally, a woman called 911 to report her pizza order was wrong.

That's it for today. Enjoy Thursday!

Play us out, Orlando youth and Kaká!