Denver Outlaws midfielder Justin Anderson

Justin Anderson leading with his voice and by example for young Outlaws

By Topher Adams | Jun 13, 2024

Justin Anderson joined the Chrome as a third-round rookie midfielder trying to prove himself at the highest level. Three years later, he’s the oldest and most experienced player on the Denver Outlaws offense. And he leads that unit even when he doesn’t play that much offense.

Anderson played as a two-way midfielder in each of Denver’s first two games this season. He’s played off of faceoff wings, as a short-stick defensive midfielder and as an offensive midfielder. 

While he’s primarily played offense as a pro, Anderson credits his time at North Carolina for building his two-way ability. 

“Going into my senior year in the fall, I actually only played defensive middie,” Anderson said. “We did that so that I can learn how to really play defense at a high level, so that I could play both ways.”

Anderson has occasionally played a two-way role as a professional, and he helped the Chrome win the PLL Championship Series two years ago in the sixes format. Denver head coach Tim Soudan praised Anderson’s willingness to embrace this role to start the season.

“He's been great about the whole thing,” Soudan said. “I know he misses being kind of a leader on the offensive end. He's still a leader, he just hasn't had as many runs.”

Even if he’s not scoring as many goals or initiating as much of the offense, Anderson does what he needs to do to help the team win. The two-way role also allows him to attack early against unsettled defenses, as both of his goals this season came immediately off of faceoff wins.

The Outlaws are the youngest offense in the PLL. Only Logan Wisnauskas and Anderson have more than one year of professional experience, and six players are new to the roster this season. 

Amid all that youth and all the new faces, Anderson has stepped up as a vocal leader.

Anderson and Wisnauskas help to organize the offense and get the entire unit playing on the same page, Anderson said. As the most experienced player on the offense, Anderson embraces a responsibility to help lead the younger players.

“When you have 10 different voices chiming in on one thing, it's hard to get things accomplished,” the 28-year-old said. “But when you can have somebody that maybe has been around for a little bit longer that can help lead in that aspect, I think it helps out just so that everybody's on one page.”

Heading into this season, Anderson was named a captain alongside veteran defensemen Mike Manley and Jesse Bernhardt. The captaincy is not something Anderson takes lightly. 

“I feel super privileged to have the opportunity to be a captain for this young team, and to help out in any way that I possibly can,” he said. 

Anderson will see fewer two-way runs outside of faceoff wings and play as more of a traditional offensive midfield role, Soudan said. But regardless of where he plays, or what he’s asked to do on the field, Anderson is committed to winning.

Denver won its first game in over a calendar year against the Utah Archers last Friday. By his own admission, Anderson played poorly to start the game, but he and the whole team rallied and settled in. 

As Brennan O’Neill started to take over, the Outlaws completed a seven-goal comeback and won 18-17 in overtime.

“To get that win after not having won in such a long time, it was so exciting,” Anderson said. “It just reminds you of why you do what you do.”