Denver Outlaws midfielder Jack Myers

First impressions and second chances: Who starts at X for Outlaws?

By Topher Adams | May 27, 2024

The Denver Outlaws enter the 2024 season with a mix of new players and new questions on the offensive end. After finishing last in the league in every offensive category in 2023, an overhaul was badly needed.

The biggest question heading into training camp for head coach Tim Soudan’s team is behind the cage at X.

For many years, this group was led by Jordan Wolf. After his retirement, Jackson Morrill and Brendan Nichtern both had opportunities to lead Denver’s offense. Now, Morrill is a Maryland Whipsnake, and Nichtern is unavailable due to military commitments.

Denver brings several new faces in to compete for the starting role at X. Perhaps the early favorite is third-round draft pick Josh Zawada. The former Michigan and Duke star is coming off a career season with the Blue Devils. He also already has experience with the Outlaws’ new centerpiece, Brennan O’Neill.

Zawada brings a well-rounded skill set and high-end speed as a dodger. He’s two-handed but primarily plays on the right, which would provide vital balance to O’Neill and Logan Wisnauskas.

“I think that's a great, great fit,” Soudan said. “Zawada is probably the fastest guy we have at X.” 

A pair of young midfielders could also see consistent playing time down low for the first time since college. Denver added Jack Myers last season, but he didn’t make an appearance for the team.

Myers is one of the best players in Ohio State history with over 200 career points in college. There’s plenty of upside for the 6-foot-4 attacker in his second pro season.

Connor DeSimone was another productive X attackman in the Big Ten. He started his pro career with the Utah Archers, primarily as a midfielder. However, his role allowed him to invert and attack from behind the cage.

He filled in at X at times when injuries arose, as well, including against his current club two years ago. In his professional debut in 2022, DeSimone got a surprise start due to an injury. He scored a pair of goals and dished two assists.

DeSimone played well as an inverting midfielder in his rookie season, but he fell out of favor with the Archers last season. He played just twice, scoring one goal. His trade to Denver could unlock untapped potential for the former Johns Hopkins Blue Jay.

Undrafted rookie Dalton Young is a potential wild card in this situation. Richmond’s second all-time leading scorer dominated as an X attackman, including two 70-point seasons. In addition to his dodging and playmaking, he brings a toughness Denver wants on its roster.

“They say he’s the toughest guy on their team,” Soudan said. “You don’t usually hear that about attackmen.”

The competition is open and competitive going into training camp. While each player brings an interesting resume to camp, nobody is entrenched in this group. This culture of competition should elevate the play in camp. 

“That's going to push the whole whole mindset higher,” Soudan said. “I do think it creates a little higher intensity practice.”

The Outlaws need several of these players to be productive in one role or another. Even if only young attackmen will start behind the goal, they’ll all need to contribute to rebuild Denver’s offense.