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Major League Soccer 2012, Week 13: What We Learned

It was a week of debuts as Stade Saputo opened for MLS play; Philadelphia and Toronto started off new eras with John Hackworth and Paul Mariner taking their respective places on the bench.

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After a two-week break Major League Soccer was back in action for a busy week 13. A stadium made its debut - as did two new coaches in Philadelphia and Toronto.

The Chicago Fire and LA Galaxy picked up three points apiece on Sunday to round out the week.

Once the dust settled on the weekend one thing remained the same as where we left it off, both D.C. United and Real Salt Lake were on top of their respective conferences. Both clubs also became the first MLS sides to break the 30 point barrier on the season as well.

Stade Saputo opens

The Montreal Impact had been strong so far this season in Quebec. The first few games at the old Olympic Stadium saw the Impact go a respectable 2-1-2 - a good showing for an expansion side. But once Stade Saputo opened up some folks didn't know how things would really go for this club. Not all stadium openings (or re-openings, in this case) have gone too well for the clubs in question.

The Impact wanted to make sure their fans felt it was worth the wait to get outdoors and in front of a beautiful pitch at Saputo Stadium. A rowdy crowd saw the Impact down the Seattle Sounders 4-1. Yes 4-1. There probably wasn't a better way to christen the renovated stadium than with that thumping.

Former Sounder Leamar Neagle bagged his first goal for the Impact while Brazilian midfielder Felipe, veteran Justin Mapp and rookie Andrew Wenger filled in the scoring elsewhere. Speaking of Wenger, the kid is showing folks exactly why he was the top pick in this past year's SuperDraft.

The play from Felipe was the focus on Saturday, however. With the Sounders down a man - thanks to a Jhon Kennedy Hurtado red card in the second half - and thanks to the suspension of Osvaldo Alonso, Felipe had all the room in the midfield to himself to be his dangerous self. His passing was top notch and Seattle really had no answer for him.

Montreal still has a ways to go to get back in to the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference but with results like this they could be well on their way. Seattle, on the other hand, has to be worried about results like this. They've lost three out of their last five now and really haven't looked like the Sounders from early May.

Lone Star disappointment for Dallas

Let's make that ten straight winless for FC Dallas now. Schellas Hyndman had to send out a mix and match lineup in Houston for the lone Texas Derby game of 2012. The Dynamo took advantage of both that and a second half red card to Jair Benitez on their way to a 2-1 win over their rivals from North Texas.

It is the same old story for FC Dallas. Hyndman entered the match with an injury list that looked more like a starting XI than the group he ended up using on the pitch. But it was the mental mistakes in the back from guys like Benitez that sent this game veering off course for Dallas. FCD had a great chance to at least walk out of BBVA Compass Stadium with a point after Jackson Goncalves' crafty goal but the heat of the rivalry was too much for Benitez and the rest of FCD.

Give credit to the Dynamo for taking the most of their chances in this one. While their starting XI didn't seem to give Dallas as much trouble as they could have, especially considering the issues that rookie Matt Hedges and Hernan Pertuz were dealing with in the center of the defense for Dallas. Will Bruin gave the Dallas defense trouble but it was Adam Moffatt that got the late game-winner.

Whitecaps quietly sneak up the standings

Don't look now folks, but Martin Rennie's Vancouver Whitecaps are sneaking up the standings. Two wins this week and only three losses on the season (you read that correctly - the same as RSL, Sporting KC, New York and the San Jose Earthquakes).

Something about this club is starting to show up nicely. The defense is holding strong with the likes of Jay DeMerit and keeper Joe Cannon in the back but it is the offense that is finally getting on the mark here. Last Sunday it was rookie Darren Mattocks netting a brace and this past weekend it was Sebastien Le Toux working his butt off to get the 1-0 win for the home side.

Le Toux's 80th minute goal against the Colorado Rapids was all the Caps needed in this one to get three points. With the win and some other results in the Western Conference, Rennie's club is now sitting in third place with a cool 25 points on the season - just three fewer than they got in the entire 2011 season.

Struggles remain with Toronto and Philadelphia

Well you can say this, both Toronto FC under Paul Mariner and the Philadelphia under John Hackworth tried to improve in one game but neither really provided any major spark under their new bosses.

Toronto failed to get anything going against Sporting Kansas City. Their 2-0 loss was their 10th of the season, the most by any club in MLS at the moment. The early pressure from Sporting was too much as Toronto rarely had an answer for the speed up front from C.J. Sapong. Jimmy Nielsen came up big on a couple Toronto chances as Danny Koevermans and Eric Avila failed to get the Reds on the board in this one.

Philadelphia had similar struggles at home against D.C. United. The Black-and-Red rode a lovely free kick goal by Designated Player Branko Boskovic to down Hawkworth's Union 1-0.

The Union had plenty of chances in this one but once again their finishing was dreadful. The attack lead by youngster Jack McInereny and Freddy Adu didn't have an answer to get by United keeper Bill Hamid. Michael Farfan also created several good chances for the Union but none were good enough to land on the scoreboard.

Fire impress against New York

A couple weeks off was all Frank Klopas' club really needed here. Their 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls was a fairly impressive one considering the way Hans Backe's club has played this season.

The Fire came out in the attack early with balls into Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko running free on the wings. The Red Bulls were without defensive midfielder Rafa Marquez and striker Thierry Henry for this one and it showed - Marquez's replacement in the midfield was Heath Pearce and he seemed out of position all day there as the Fire ran all over the Red Bulls.

Nyarko got things started for the Fire early in the first half and the Windy City side never looked back as Gonzalo Segares and Chris Rolfe added tallies to give the Fire three points. Inconsistent play has been an Achilles' heel this season for the Fire so maintaining this effort in their next game will be vital for their playoff run here this summer.