Sporting Kansas City revels in spoiler role by upsetting playoff hopefuls

MLS, like any league, has good teams, bad teams and midfield teams. But thanks to the league’s parity, travel, sometimes odd planning, mid-season transfer window and general penchant for chaos, teams end up screwing things up for the rest with delightful regularity.

Take Sporting Kansas City, who were bottom of the Western Conference for most of the season. Throw in a great summer signing like William Agada, who’s already second on the team after five games, and suddenly this bottom league is beating playoff hopes LA Galaxy and Portland Timbers in back-to-back home games. Wait, check this out, they absolutely wiped out LA and Portland.

The playoff race is just as much about which outside team is going to ruin a team’s season, just for fun. And that’s something to be proud of.

So top, middle and bottom. Let’s find out who is where.

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Previous placement: 1

Next MLS game: Friday at Austin FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Black and Gold had a difficult week just by their standards, with an unremarkable win over DC and a loss to San Jose, so of course they secured a playoff spot as well. Even if things aren’t going too well, LAFC still has something to celebrate this year.


Previous placement: 4

Next MLS game: Saturday at Chicago Fire FC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Attack was the problem and they were too dependent on Djordje Mihailovic one thought. With Mihailovic perhaps moving to the Netherlands and no longer in the lineup, they crush New England 4-0. At least for now, there’s no doubt in Montreal.


Previous placement: 2

Next MLS game: Saturday vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Philly has scored at least six goals in a game three times since July 7 after smoking DC 6-0. So you’ll excuse us if we’re ready to throw Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Dallas out the window.


Previous placement: 3

Next MLS game: Friday vs LAFC, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Losing in Minnesota isn’t really a concern, but giving up 12 goals in your last five games is. The problem with Austin’s defense playing like they want Sebastian Driussi to be a superhero, which we appreciate, but it could knock the Argentine out of the playoffs early, which we wouldn’t welcome.



Franco Fragapane Goal 62nd Minute Minnesota United FC 2-1 Austin FC


Previous placement: 8th

Next MLS game: Saturday vs. Houston Dynamo FC, 3:30 p.m. ET

This is Adrian Heath’s ideal team. They work their cocks off, as we’ve come to expect from his sides, but they have Emanuel Reynoso busy with, well, almost everything else. That’s balance in its own way, and it’s put them third in the West on points per game after beating Austin.


Previous placement: 5

Next MLS game: Saturday vs Real Salt Lake, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+

If you beat Philly midweek, you’ll get a “let’s forget this game ever happened” to use in the weekend’s loss in Nashville.


Previous placement: 6

Next MLS game: Saturday at FC Dallas, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Nothing about RSL games makes much sense. On the one hand, they’re not good enough to control anything remotely. On the other hand, quite often they emerge from the chaos with points, like in this weekend’s draw against Vancouver. They are the prettiest pinball players in the world.


Previous placement: 9

Next MLS game: Saturday v Inter Miami CF, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After a win in Atlanta and a home draw against Cincy, RBNY are now averaging 1.93 points per game (which would put them top of the East) away and 1.08 points per game (which would put them second from bottom in the conference) home .



Christian Fuchs scores penalty home goal against New York City FC


Previous placement: 7

Next MLS game: Sunday in Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. ET

Beating the Fire was nice, but it doesn’t make up for Charlotte to win on the road for the second time ever. The world after Valentin Castellanos is even darker than expected.


Previous placement: 10

Next MLS game: Saturday vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Cincy brought in Matt Miazga to help one of the league’s worst defenses stop goals, but scoring is just as good as keeping a goal. Put it and a dot in New Jersey on the board.


Previous placement: fifteen

Next MLS game: Saturday at Vancouver Whitecaps, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Nashville turned around its pathetic home record with a 4-0 win over Dallas in front of a shockingly small crowd. Maybe NPCs are just shy.


Previous placement: 11

Next MLS game: Saturday at FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

If Cucho Hernandez is scoring a goal a game, which he is, then maybe the crew should do better than playing Atlanta at home. If we don’t see Cucho in the playoffs, we riot.



Cucho Hernández’s goal equalized in the 66th minute


Previous placement: 14

Next MLS game: Sunday vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m. ET

Oscar Pareja knew Anton Walkes would miss an unchallenged clearance and if Tesho Akindele fired straight at the keeper the rebound would come straight back to him for an easy finish. That’s tactics. And a place above the playoff line.


Previous placement: 16

Next MLS game: Saturday at the New York Red Bulls, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Inter have something to cook up and are in the hunt for a playoff spot after beating Toronto, but if they want to play at this level they need to find a shade of pink for their jerseys that can withstand the Florida summer sweat. That gorgeous pink at kick-off looks terribly heavy in the 10th minute.


Previous placement: 12

Next MLS game: Saturday at Charlotte FC, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Having to play three games in one week, topped off by a three-hour flight to Florida in August? Some might call this cruel, others just call it MLS. Shockingly, it ended in defeat in Miami.


Previous placement: 13

Next MLS game: Saturday at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Dynamo have been going through a rough patch so it was very nice to have them play a man for the last 10 minutes, but Rapids supporters would probably value a playoff spot more than the Nice Guys award. Two points lost at home to Houston is a great way to miss the postseason.



Lalas Abubakar delivers a perfect cross from Felipe Gutierrez


Previous placement: 17

Next MLS game: Sunday vs. LA Galaxy, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Revs finally learned after a winless trip to Toronto and Montreal that you’re in trouble when all the key players are injured. That it took them weeks to learn the lesson is a credit to Bruce Arena & Co.


Previous placement: 24

Next MLS game: Saturday vs Nashville SC, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After beating the Rapids 2-1 and drawing RSL 1-1, the Caps still have a shot at making the playoffs. They’re a point off the postseason and have the second-worst goal difference in the Western Conference. This is an absurdity that no one can fight.


Previous placement: 19

Next MLS game: Friday at Portland Timbers, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN

Each week feels like a game of “Do you think the Sounders are buried yet?” “How about now?” And the answer is still “no” and won’t go away after a draw in LA


Previous placement: 20

Next MLS game: Sunday at New England Revolution, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Galaxy are historically the best team in MLS and the Sounders are the class of modern times so it’s only one reason both teams are so underchallenged they’re in the playoff bubble and need a win they would kicking each other in the shins and pulling.



The Galaxy and the Sounders keep fans entertained in a match that lasts until the last minute.


Previous placement: 21

Next MLS game: Saturday vs. Toronto FC, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The Crown actually won an away game, only their second ever, at NYCFC and got real support from Kamil Jozwiak in a loss to Orlando. Reason enough for a parade in Charlotte.


Previous placement: 18

Next MLS game: Friday vs. Seattle Sounders, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Timbers are lucky not to take negative points from a game, because a 4-1 loss to SKC would be one reason for that.


Previous placement: 23

Next MLS game: Sunday vs DC United, 4 p.m. ET

Which is worse when you’re in a playoff race: playing horribly, like Atlanta did in the loss to the Red Bulls, or playing phenomenally and not getting three points, like the Five Stripes did in a tie against did the crew do?


Previous placement: 25

Next MLS game: Saturday vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Sporting Park, playoff house of horrors. That doesn’t mean what it used to be as SKC is a long way from the postseason, but if you’re a playoff contender you might skip the trip to Kansas City. LA and Portland wish they had.



William Agada Goal 75th Minute Sporting Kansas City 4-0 Portland Timbers


Previous placement: 26

Next MLS game: Saturday at Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Loop Cade Cowell’s winning volley against LAFC through next February.


Previous placement: 22

Next MLS game: Saturday vs CF Montreal, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+

After a loss to NYCFC, it looks like we’ll “Mr. Brightside” couldn’t crank it up for a Fire playoff game at Soldier Field like it was 2005.


Previous placement: 28

Next MLS game: Saturday at Minnesota United, 3:30 p.m. ET

Dynamo only needed 10 minutes to earn a tie in Colorado, so at least we learned that Houston is actually a competitive 11-on-10 team.


Previous placement: 27

Next MLS game: Sunday at Atlanta United, 4:00 p.m. ET

This week was less about Wayne Rooney admitting DC had no chance of making the playoffs after losses to LA and Philly and more about recalling the confidence he had just a few weeks ago when he said he thought they could still make the playoffs. That was the most compelling performance DCU has had since 2019. Sporting Kansas City revels in spoiler role by upsetting playoff hopefuls

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