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2014 MLS midseason awards

MLS Aug 4, 2014
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D.C.'s turnaround led by Olsen

MLS Jul 31, 2014
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MLS Review: Dominant Henry

MLS Jul 14, 2014
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 Posted by Jason Davis
Jul 7, 2014

Week 17 rankings: Stars return

Sporting Kansas City's Dom Dwyer grabbed a photographer's phone, snapped a selfie with fans and was promptly shown a yellow card for excessive celebration.

MLS coaches wasted no time in reinserting returning U.S. internationals. On a weekend that saw several top teams struggle, Michael Bradley, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Brad Davis and Matt Besler all returned to action for their teams. Any lingering effects of their time in Brazil will need to be quickly forgotten as MLS clubs ramp up for the second half of the season.

1. Seattle Sounders

Without Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, DeAndre Yedlin, Osvaldo Alonso or Gonzalo Pineda, the Sounders fell 1-0 to the Whitecaps on Saturday. It was Seattle's first loss in six matches and ended a three-game winning streak. A full-strength Sounders remains the clear best team in the league.

2. Vancouver Whitecaps

Vancouver beat Seattle 1-0 at BC Place on the back of a screamer from Sebastian Fernandez, a shot from 30 yards that managed to beat Stefan Frei. The tally was the Uruguayan's third of the season, and the Vancouver win the second positive result against the Sounders in two meetings this season.

3. Colorado Rapids

Clint Irwin nearly won the Rapids three points against the Crew on Friday -- protecting a lead built on a brilliant header from Vicente Sanchez -- before a miscue by rookie midfielder Jared Watts spoiled the effort. Still, Colorado continues to creep on RSL for second in the Western Conference.

4. Toronto FC

Sliding Michael Bradley right back into the lineup after his World Cup sojourn, TFC fell to D.C. United by a goal at home. The loss ended a six-game unbeaten run for the Reds, as well as a six-game streak for Jermain Defoe with a goal or an assist.

Michael Bradley's return could not inspire Toronto FC to victory.

5. D.C. United

Beating Toronto on the road vaulted D.C. back into first place in the Eastern Conference. Midfielder Nick DeLeon is leading the charge, showing the form that made him a 2012 Rookie of the Year finalist.

6. Sporting Kansas City

Peter Vermes held out Matt Besler but used Graham Zusi as a substitute in a draw against the Fire at Sporting Park in the first game with the club's World Cup players back. Sporting could use Besler; the Fire had numerous chances to find a winner.

7. New England Revolution

The Revolution's loss in Utah to RSL took their losing streak to four games, a downward trend that comes on the back of a five-game winning streak. There is no middle ground in Foxborough for Jay Heaps & Co.

8. Real Salt Lake

Perhaps no team will be as glad to see their World Cup players return as Real Salt Lake. In their first match back, both Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman made a difference in a 2-1 win over New England.

9. LA Galaxy

The Galaxy can't seem to get out of neutral, and Bruce Arena continues to tinker with his formation. The Galaxy needed an own goal from Rauwshan McKenzie to grab a point against Portland at home.

10. New York Red Bulls

A bad start and a strong finish saw the Red Bulls draw with Houston on the road. Bradley Wright-Phillips continued his scoring success with two more goals, his league-leading 13th and 14th of the season.

11. Portland Timbers

Portland needs wins. McKenzie's gaffe to let two points get away at LA has the Timbers in seventh place in the West with a date in Seattle looming on the weekend.

12. Columbus Crew

Another week, another draw for Columbus, this time on the road in Colorado. Ethan Finley's goal in the 76th minute earned the Crew their fourth draw in a row.

13. F.C. Dallas

Eight points in their last four matches is a good return for a Dallas team still adjusting to the loss of Mauro Diaz and now dealing with a four-game suspension for Fabian Castillo. An own goal and Blas Perez were enough to get a win at home over the Union.

14. Philadelphia Union

If last week's win over the Revolution was evidence of a new-coach bump for the Union, the energy might have already dissipated. Philadelphia was thoroughly outplayed by Dallas in muggy conditions in Texas.

15. Chicago Fire

Mike Magee converted one chance and missed several others as the Fire won a point on the road in Kansas City. As a result, the Fire remain at the bottom of the league in wins with just two.

16. Chivas USA

The Erick Torres Show rolls on in Southern California. The Mexican forward's latest wonder goal, an acrobatic effort against Montreal on Saturday, earned his team its third straight win. Chivas USA is now just four points back of a playoff spot in the West.

17. Montreal Impact

Montreal thrashed the Dynamo at home, then went on the road and lost to Chivas USA. The Impact are still at the bottom of the overall league table, with only the heroics of Jack McInerney serving as a silver lining to a poor season.

18. Houston Dynamo

An early goal on Brad Davis' return to the lineup staked Houston to a lead against New York, but the Dynamo failed to finish the job. The two-goal output was their first multi-goal game since a 5-2 loss to RSL on May 11, though it's too early to call it signs of life.

19. San Jose Earthquakes

Three losses in a row drop San Jose to the bottom of the power rankings. Their most recent defeat coming at the hands of Chivas USA in midweek. Head coach Mark Watson will be glad to be able to pencil Chris Wondolowski's name into his lineup next weekend against Eastern Conference leading D.C. United.

Jason Davis

Jason Davis is a writer from Virginia covering American soccer whose work has appeared at ESPN FC, The Score, GQ UK and The Guardian Sport Blog, among others. Besides writing, he also hosts a daily soccer podcast that covers the game around the globe. Follow him @davisjsn.

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