Analyzing Chaos’ Battle at Offensive Midfield
It all started on March 3rd, 2023 when the free agency window opened up. Many key players on the roster, specifically midfielders, tested the free agent waters.
Those three made up 21.3% of the team’s total offensive production in 2022. More specifically, 42% of the team’s midfield production just walked out the door.
That left a big hole to fill and a huge question mark to be answered - Who’s going to play at midfield for Chaos in 2023?
So far, 14 different players have played O-Mid this year in a Chaos uniform. To put it into perspective, Josh Byrne is the only offensive player listed on the roster this season who hasn’t played at midfield.
Many different lineup combinations have come as a result. Some worked, some didn’t, and the team is inching their way closer to finding the best possible lineup for the playoffs.
Until someone else shows they deserve to be a regular, we’ll still see movement.
Here’s a look into the current midfield battle and who my front runners are to win the job.
Kyle Jackson has grown a lot on me this past year. The ball used to die in his stick when re-dodging his matchup to get a step, but has improved on that weakness this season.
This past weekend in the 15-11 win against the Atlas he was automatic against SSDM’s scoring two goals on five shots.
This goal is a prime example. The Chaos have become a very efficient team initiating from X and Jackson can become a bigger part of that. Even though Minicus and Dhane are the primary options, Jackson has the ability to be in that conversation.
His versatility will lead him to becoming an every game guy.
Him and Byrne have showcased a great duo on the lefty wing. Both can dodge or pick, and their willingness to do both makes it a difficult matchup to cover.
Against Atlas, Byrne was a picker on many occasions leading to their first goal of the game.
This is the Chaos’ DNA. Jackson and Byrne can create a lethal two-man game on the left wing that can be another trick up their sleeve.
Jackson’s been a gameday regular in the past, but his inefficiency and turnover rate have hurt him.
In 2023, he’s shooting 17% and has seven turnovers in four games. With only five points on the season, that point-to-turnover ratio is not ideal. That’s likely why he fell out of the lineup against the Redwoods. He, luckily, improved upon those mistakes in Week 5.
If Dhane continues to run out of the box as a short stick, Jackson is a great option alongside him as he’ll get a SS matchup.
He’s my front runner for one of those four spots.
In the week five win against Atlas, Tye Kurtz showed he’s a better fit at attack than midfield. Finishing the game with 2 goals and picking up three ground balls – tied for a team high – Kurtz is deserving of another chance.
Consistency is the next step, though. With only two games under his belt, there’s still more to prove.
He scored two goals on 50% shooting and picked up three goals - tied for a team high. Both keys to winning games. Andy Towers preaches efficiency, and if Kurtz continues to shoot like that there’s no reason to take him out.
This weekend showed the team might be best with Dhane running out of the box and Kurtz as an attackman. But things can change.
If Dhane ever goes back to attack, displacing Kurtz, he’ll have to improve on his first performance at midfield. Against the Redwoods in Week 3, he had no points and took some low percentage shots.
He can build off his success this past week off-ball.
As the Chaos remain persistent on dodging from behind, he can be a deadly threat if defenses slide downfield – opening him up on the wing. Like he did in his second goal of the game.
Kurtz can have a similar role to Wes Berg, but with younger legs. He’s deadly accurate, has rangey, and can score in many different ways.
We’ll have to see if his form will continue.
Chris Cloutier and Chase Fraser
I’m looping both these guys together because they’re inseparable. Teammates year round, they are great for the culture of this team.
Social media has blown up recently with potential trades. Since Fraser and Cloutier were out of the lineup last week, their names got thrown onto the pile.
It would be foolish to trade these guys because they play a big part in the team’s culture. But more importantly, they are proven winners and scorers in this league who have had success in Chaos uniforms.
For Cloutier, he’s amassed 112 points during his pro career since 2018 when he was Rookie of the Year with the Denver Outlaws in the MLL. With 76 goals in 44 career games, Cloutier is a proven finisher inside.
He’s had a slow start this season shooting 25% and missing numerous chances on the doorstep. Cloutier needs to be better to get back in the lineup and I’m confident he’ll do so.
Fraser is in a similar boat. Shooting 25% and missing too many chances on the doorstep. He needs to finish.
In the post-game press conference after the Atlas win, Towers said, “Everything is week to week but we would certainly be foolish to screw with an offense that produces and shows up on game day to the tune of 15 goals.”
Expect these two to be out again Week 6 in Dallas when the Chaos take on the Whipsnakes. If the unit that was rolled out against the Atlas has success against the struggling Whipsnakes, that could be troublesome for these two.
They’re on the outside looking in at the moment, but are still extremely capable. They can be big pieces of what the Chaos do at midfield because of their ability to finish and thrive in the two-man game.
I was impressed with Cloutier’s pace in the game against the Redwoods. Fraser is also an underrated athlete. Both can bring speed on the perimeter, maybe not as quick as Minicus though.
When they get their next chance they’ll need to produce.
Will Perry brings the speed on the perimeter that the Chaos have been looking for. He’s a great initiator who can get the party started for Chaos.
That’s his role and he’s honed it in. The next step is improving his scoring touch.
He’s shooting 23% on the season with three goals in four games. He doesn’t need to put up a lot of goals to earn his spot in the lineup, but converting is key.
Continuing to win his matchup on the perimeter and creating slides and chances for the rest of his teammates to work off of is pivotal. He only has one turnover on the season, so he’s shown to be efficient with his decision making.