By Braden Keith on SwimSwam
The LA Current will receive arguably the biggest boost of any team in the ISL this season headed into the Playoff round. That’s a boost they badly needed as the team, for the first time in the three-year history in the league, is on the outside looking in for a berth in the season finale in December in Eindhoven.
Ryan Murphy and Kristian Gkolomeev will both rejoin the team for the ISL Playoff after missing the entire regular season.
Murphy was the #3 scorer in the 2020 ISL regular season, scoring 233 points and averaging 58.25 MVP points/match. He is the only swimmer among the top 12 from the 2020 ISL regular season MVP standings to have not competed in the 2021 ISL regular season.
Murphy won 15 races during the 2020 ISL season (regular season and playoffs). That included going a perfect 5-for-5 in the 50 backstroke, and winning the high-value skins races 4 times, including in the league semifinals. His ability in the backstroke skins gives the Current more resilience in skins, and a much better chance at winning the skins races. They really struggled in the backstroke races this season, trying swimmers like Abrahm Devine, Maxime Rooney, and even Ryan Held in the backstroke events (Held was actually 2nd in the 50 back in Match #8).
The Greek sprinter Gkolomeev scored 71 points in 4 regular season matches last year, averaging 17.75 per match.
The Current ranked 5th in the regular season, one spot behind the vastly-improved Toronto Titans. In the teams’ only head-to-head matchup, in Match #5, the Titans won with 536 points and LA was 2nd with 452.5 points.
In total, Toronto averaged 62 more points than LA per regular season match. With Murphy and Gkolomeev good for about 75 points/match, that battle for a spot in the finals should tighten up considerably behind the likely top three Energy Standard, Cali Condors, and London Roar.
The Current finished 4th in both Season 1 and Season 2 of the ISL
The team will still be without Katie McLaughlin and Matt Wilson, who are both on the team’s season roster but not their playoff roster. If those two had joined the team, their chances would have improved substantially.
Will Licon and Lani Pallister are also eligible but absent from the roster, and Australian Bronte Campbell, as previously announced, will miss the ISL playoffs.
But the Current still have some other places to find points. Kathleen Baker, who swam in three regular season matches and averaged 8 points in each, and Held averaged just over 8 points in each. Both are capable of double digit points.
Another concern for the Current is the health of Tomoe Hvas. Hvas averaged over 22 points per match in the regular season, which rose to almost 28 points per match in the team’s last three. He left the European Championships early because of a non-COVID related illness, so his status is up-in-the-air.
The Current’s top two scorers in the regular season were Tom Shields and Ingrid Wilm. Wilm, who broke the Canadian Record in the 100 backstroke, is one of the two breakout performers in ISL history, and was the team’s top female scorer. She’s also not on Canada’s Short Course World Championship roster, which means she gets to focus on ISL as her primary meet this winter if she chooses.
See the full 2021 ISL Playoff Schedule here.
The LA Current open their 2021 ISL Playoffs on November 13 and 14 against London Roar, Toronto Titans, and Aqua Centurions. While not necessarily so, the teams that finish in the top two in that match will have a huge advantage in advancing to the final.
LA Current Roster for 2021 ISL Playoffs
Read the full story on SwimSwam: Ryan Murphy and Kristian Gkolomeev Due to Rejoin LA Current for ISL Playoffs
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