MIAMI -- If the Major League Soccer buzz seems to be getting fainter in South Florida, there's a good geographic reason.
The teams generating the loudest conversation heading into the league's 16th season opener Tuesday are in the Pacific Northwest -- the Seattle Sounders, who averaged 30,000-plus fans a game last year, and the expansion Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps, each of which sold out their season-ticket allotments.
All three clubs have rich soccer traditions, dating to the NASL days. In 1979, the Whitecaps beat the star-studded Cosmos in the playoffs and won the NASL Soccer Bowl over the Tampa Bay Rowdies. They were celebrated with a parade that drew 100,000 people. They drew a crowd of 60,000-plus for a match in 1983, and averaged 32,000 during their peak.