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Sporting Kansas City: Following a miserable 2022 without a playoff position, what’s next?

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By Jonathan Lewis | 30th Sep 2022

Sitting in the 13th position of the MLS Western Conference standings and with no hope of reaching the 2022 playoffs, Sporting Kansas City has mainly suffered a miserable season. However, hope is not lost for Peter Vermes and company, as the team’s rebuilding began in the summer, and they’re playing some of the best soccer we’ve seen from their previous ten fixtures.

There’s no denying the pain that Sporting fans have endured during the 2022 MLS season. Still, the arrival of Willy Agada and Erik Thommy this past summer has shined a beacon of hope, and their presence has undoubtedly lifted the team’s spirit.

Of course, 2022 hasn’t been a great run by any means, but the recent on-pitch performances by this team are proving that the worst days could be behind them.

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The Positives

Without question, the best time for Sporting has been over the previous six weeks, as this newly reformed squad has won five, lost one, and drawn two games since the beginning of August. Successes over the LA Galaxy, Timbers, D.C. United, the Quakes, and Minnesota United, a pair of road draws against Western Conference foes, and a lone loss to Austin has been the story of Sporting’s season-end.

One of the most notable victories during this stretch was Sporting’s 4-1 dismantling over Minnesota United, where the new arrival Agada netted two goals. Unfortunately, despite their success, this night marked the end of Sporting’s playoff chances.

Sporting Kansas City has now missed the MLS playoffs in just two seasons from the fourteen seasons they’ve been under the tutelage of Vermes. With that said, they’ve been ultra-impressive in recent weeks and have inflicted true despair on the Western Conference teams attempting to get or stay above the playoff line.

Sports bettors caught onto Sporting’s hot streak have been gifted with incredible betting odds on the moneyline. With one game remaining in the regular season, BetMGM Kansas users will be clawing to wager on Sporting, ruining the hopes of Seattle reaching the playoffs.

A betting man would be wise to wager on Sporting overcoming the Seattle Sounders; why? Vermes and the Sporting nation will relish the chance of ending Seattle’s 13-year playoff run.

Sporting’s recent outings are undeniably boasting some of the best performances from a team this season. Every year we see a similar scenario, where squads fail and crumble during the final ten or so games of the season, but Sporting is doing the opposite. Yes, it’s too late to save the 2022 MLS season, but they can ruin somebody else’s, and Seattle is in their sights.

The light at the end of the tunnel

Could it be Willy Agada?

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Willy Agada is inevitable!<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/SKCvPOR?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#SKCvPOR</a> <a href=”https://t.co/cdkmLVe3XO”>pic.twitter.com/cdkmLVe3XO</a></p>&mdash; Sporting Kansas City (@SportingKC) <a href=”https://twitter.com/SportingKC/status/1561527203917070338?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>August 22, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

No sports team in the world can solely rely on one player, but every team needs a star, and Agada could certainly fill this role.

When questioned about his goalscoring, Agada said: “They’re always cooking,” referencing Sporting’s midfielders and wingers. “I’m just eating.”

Sporting has often received some bad luck in their recruiting options, and the 22-year-old Nigerian didn’t seem like he was going to make an immediate impact. However, he’s been outstanding since his arrival from Hapoel Jerusalem this summer.

In addition, Sporting fans needn’t worry that he’s riding a hot streak that could turn cold; the statistics match the eye test. Agada repeats the elite-level opportunities from game to game that usually create the best goal scorers. In layman’s terms, the analytics are backing Agada just as much as the Sporting fan base.

2023 and beyond

With the midfield and attack force possessing such talents as Agada, Salloi, Russell, and Thommy, I believe Sporting is in good hands. However, with two aging defenders in Andreu Fontas and Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, the fingers should be pointing at the defensive unit that’s currently protecting Sporting’s goal.

It’s almost impossible to imagine a Sporting team that can generate more success next season without fixing their defensive issues, particularly the positions covered by Fontas and Isimat-Mirin.

Should Sporting purchase an elite center back, I believe we could see significant improvements and a return to the MLS playoffs next term.

Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports writer

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