We've already covered at great length (here, here, and here if you missed it) the fluid activity of Sporting Kansas City thus far. The general consensus among Sporting KC fans, media and lookers-on from the national stage is that despite losing midfield machine Roger Espinoza to Wigan Athletic and trading back up fullback Michael Harrington to Portland Timbers, the additions of Benny Feilhaber, Ike Opara and new Designated Player forward Claudio Bieler have made Sporting a better team on the whole. For purposes of this exercise, we'll say the team that was already proven best in the MLS' Eastern Conference in 2012 is "slightly up" in terms of offseason trend. But the relevant question is this: who's also improved, and have they closed the closed the gap on Sporting or simply just trying to keep pace? It's still early, but a couple of teams have followed the Sporting blueprint and made early strides.