Talking Points: Northwest soccer rivalry has grown up

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What’s the buzz from the world of sports? Here are some items that will have people talking:

1

Major League Soccer is jazzed that Sunday’s Timbers-Sounders game drew more than 66,000 fans to CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

That’s understandable.

But the crowd wasn’t an indication that MLS has arrived as a mainstream sport in America. It was a tribute to decades of history between the clubs in leagues at varying levels of professional soccer. It was another example of the power of tradition in driving fan choice.

MLS should be congratulated, though — for embracing the Pacific Northwest markets and the long history of the Timbers, Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps brands.

2

There are those who believe the renovated Husky Stadium and other facility improvements can be a game changer for the Washington football program.

The long-overdue project, scheduled for completion next year, will include improved locker and weight rooms as well as a better fan experience. It figures to make Washington more attractive to recruits.

But those Oregon Ducks, as is their personality, aren’t standing still. Just Tuesday, former Duck and current Carolina panther Jonathan Stewart announced he was donating $250,000 toward the expansion of the Casanova Center, which houses Oregon’s athletic department and football facilities.

Stewart’s donation does not impact the Huskies. But it’s a reminder that Stewart’s 2005 decision to play at Oregon instead of at Washington was stark evidence of the power shift in Northwest football.

3

Show of hands: How many of you took time out of your day on Tuesday to catch some Kontinental Hockey League action?

In case you missed it, Alex Ovechkin scored a third-period goal to lift UHC Dynamo of Moscow to a 1-0 win over HC Lev in a game shown live on ESPN2.

Why would ESPN bother with Russian hockey? Well, even without with stars such as Ovechkin playing over there during the NHL lockout, the KHL is considered the second best league in the world.

By showing KHL games, ESPN both fills a void for die-hard hockey fans and jabs the NHL for its mess.

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