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Altidore back at home for January camp

 By Jason Davis

Week 18 rankings: DCU charges

Ben Olsen has D.C. United firing on all cylinders at the moment.

After Week 18 of MLS, the team at the top remains the same, but it's finally time to give Major League Soccer's redemption story its due. D.C. United makes a leap up the rankings, thanks to their leading position in the Eastern Conference and a road win Friday against San Jose.

Chivas USA takes a marked step up the rankings as well, thanks to a win in Vancouver over the Whitecaps and another Erick Torres goal.

1. Seattle Sounders

Getting Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin back in the lineup only makes the league's best team better. Dempsey's return from the World Cup included a goal in a 2-0 win, and though the Sounders struggled a bit to find their rhythm against the Timbers, there's no reason to think they'll slow down anytime soon.

2. D.C. United

Convincing or not, there's no arguing with United's recent results. First place in the East speaks for itself. Winning on the road, even against poor teams, is difficult in MLS. After Ben Olsen's side beat San Jose on Friday night, United has back-to-back victories away from home for the first time since 2007.

3. Colorado Rapids

Conceding three goals to the Union drops the Rapids down the rankings, but Pablo Mastroeni's team continues to be a fixture in the Western Conference playoff race. Colorado executed a strong comeback to earn a point against the Union on the road.

4. Vancouver Whitecaps

The Whitecaps couldn't stop Cubo Torres on Saturday -- it seems no one can -- but what ultimately did in Carl Robinson's team was Jordan Harvey's red card. Nigel Reo-Coker will rue a missed chance that might have salvaged something for the Caps at home.

5. Toronto FC

As Jermain Defoe goes, so go Toronto FC. The English striker scored the last two of TFC's four goals to execute a comeback over Houston at home. Going down 2-0 to the Dynamo should be troubling for Ryan Nelsen, but the comeback illustrated that this Toronto team is different from TFC teams of the past.

6. Sporting Kansas City

With the possible departure of Matt Besler looming, Sporting beat Montreal thanks to a horrific mistake at the back for the Impact. Dom Dwyer scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season in the 2-1 win and again showed the poachers instincts that have him second in the league for scoring.

7. LA Galaxy

A win, a clean sheet and a goal from Gyasi Zardes headed the list of positives from L.A.'s 1-0 win over RSL on Saturday. Although L.A. certainly needs wins to make sure of their playoff credentials, it's the clean sheet and Zardes' goal that should most encourage Bruce Arena and company.

8. Real Salt Lake

After getting back on the good side of the scoresheet this past week to end a five-game winless streak, RSL fell to L.A. on Saturday at StubHub Center. There were plenty of positive signs in the loss, and RSL remains in second in the Western Conference behind Seattle.

9. New York Red Bulls

A four-goal explosion lifted the Red Bulls over Columbus on Saturday at Red Bull Arena. Thierry Henry dominated, and Bradley Wright-Phillips continued his rampant scoring form. The win was a window into what the Red Bulls are capable of.

10. New England Revolution

The Revolution losing streak is now at five games, after a loss Saturday to the Fire. The five losses come immediately after a run of five wins in a row. If there's a positive from the latest setback, it's that the Revs only gave up one goal. But the loss of Andy Dorman to injury, pending his status, could loom large for Jay Heaps.

11. Portland Timbers

For a half, the Timbers played toe-to-toe against the Sounders on the road. Seattle took charge in the second half, but Portland showed enough to keep alive the thought that they are still simply underachieving. Caleb Porter's side is a good team trapped in a mediocre team's body.

12. F.C. Dallas

The return of Mauro Diaz this past week lifted Dallas, who still holds on to a playoff spot in the difficult West. Oscar Pareja's team was idle this weekend ahead of a home date with the struggling Revolution next Saturday.

13. Chivas USA

Chivas USA is the hottest team in MLS. That surprising fact is built on the club's four-game winning streak, a run that did not include a multiple-goal game until Saturday's win over Vancouver. Erick Torres scored again, and aided by a Whitecaps red card, Wilmer Cabrera and company earned three points on the road for the third time this year.

14. Philadelphia Union

Whatever changes Jim Curtin made since taking over the Union, they've effected a new goal-happy mentality for the team. For the fourth time in their past five matches, the Union put a three spot up on the board. Unfortunately, two of those games ended in draws.

15. Columbus Crew

Columbus fell to the Red Bulls onslaught on Saturday for the Crew's sixth match without a win. In a battle of influential stars, Henry got the best of Columbus' Federico Higuain. The Crew desperately need a top striker to bring out the best in the skillful Argentine.

16. Chicago Fire

Finally a win for the Fire. Finally Chicago made a Mike Magee tally stand up. It required a little help from a spiraling Revolution side, and Sean Johnson saving a late penalty, but the Fire's third win of the year at least provides hope an upswing is possible.

17. Montreal Impact

A home draw against the defending champs appeared in the cards for Montreal, until a disastrous bit of play in the back gifted visiting Sporting Kansas City a winner. It's just those kinds of mistakes that have the Impact at the foot of the overall table and in last place in the Eastern Conference.

18. Houston Dynamo

So it goes for Houston, a team in a rut so deep that this past week's home draw with the Red Bulls was a step in a positive direction. This week, the Dynamo fell to Toronto 2-1 to extend their winless streak to seven and bring the number of losses in that run to six.

19. San Jose Earthquakes

Chris Wondolowski shook off his World Cup miss with a goal for the Quakes, but it wasn't enough to overcome D.C. United at Buck Shaw Stadium. San Jose looks like a team going through the motions, good enough to compete but rarely good enough to win.


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