BY IAN WALKER
The Vancouver Whitecaps will have striker Marlon James back in their lineup Wednesday when the defending United Soccer Leagues First Division champions take on the Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium. James return couldn't have come at a better time as the Whitecaps have yet to secure their place in the post-season.
Vancouver (9-9-9) currently sits in seventh spot in the 11-team loop, three points back of fifth-place Montreal (11-10-6). The top seven teams make the playoffs with the top seed getting a first-round bye.
While James slots back in after recovering from his most recent injury — a groin strain suffered three weeks ago against the Carolina RailHawks — the Whitecaps are expected to be without captain Martin Nash. The midfielder is still hampered by a hamstring injury which has forced him to miss the past two games.
Vancouver is coming off a 1-1 draw against the Minnesota Thunder on Friday, to fall to 2-6-6 on the road. The Whitecaps will be looking for just their second win in Montreal, since the Impact moved into their new stadium last season.
Wednesday's all-important game also brings Vancouver's regular-season road schedule to a close. The team has the luxury of finishing the season at home, with dates against the expansion Austin Aztex on Sunday and the Cleveland City Stars on Sept. 18 at Swangard Stadium.
Vancouver needs at least a draw in one of its final three games to advance to the playoffs.
• Tuesday marked the 30th anniversary of the Vancouver Whitecaps historic victory at Soccer Bowl, where they defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 to win the North American Soccer League championship. With it, the Whitecaps became the city's first professional sports team to win a major North American championship. Members of that team included the likes of Alan Ball, John Craven, Phil Parkes and current Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi.
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