Photo courtesy of the Premiere Lacrosse League
With a 7-3 record and the first overall seed, Chaos LC went into the playoffs with plans to claim the inaugural Premier Lacrosse League crown. However, their offense lost its groove as they put up just seven goals in each of their two playoff games and they found themselves staying home on championship weekend.
Heading into the 2020 PLL Championship Series, Chaos find themselves as a bit of an underdog. According to the Draft Kings Sportsbook, as of July 21st Chaos are +500 to win it all, the third-lowest odds of the seven PLL teams. For a team that returns this season with more talent and depth than last year, I think betting on Chaos is a good idea.
As you may have heard in the latest of many adrenaline-pumping speeches from head coach Andy Towers, Chaos are loaded with depth at every position. However, it’s their attack that sticks out as their greatest strength.
Chaos returns the attack line of Connor Fields, Josh Byrne, and Miles Thompson that scored the third-most goals of any starting attack line in the league while boasting the second-highest combined shooting percentage of 36.3 percent. Fields, one of last year’s Jim Brown Award finalists, draws the eyes of the fans, the cameras, and opposing defenses but for the Championship Series, it will be his teammates who will push Chaos to be true contenders for the Crown.
The last time we saw Curtis Dickson playing field lacrosse was in Netanya, Israel where he led Team Canada 19 goals. More importantly, in their two games against USA, he tallied five goals, including a hat trick in the gold medal game. More recently, we’ve seen Dickson dominate in the NLL, spurring Calgary to a championship in 2019 and leading his team in points in 2020 before the season ended early. This summer, Dickson will fill a void in the Chaos offense on the right hand side in their 1-4-1, pick-heavy offense.
Half Field Productivity
Curtis Dickson, who recently turned 32-years-old, will join Dhane Smith on the right hand side of the offense. Smith, 28, suited up for only five games last season and is already looking like a player that will make a big impact on Chaos’ bid for the 2020 PLL Crown. Between Dickson and Smith, Towers hopes that a veteran presence on the field will limit the turnovers. Last year, turnovers and stagnant off-ball movement plagued a Chaos team that struggled to consistently execute their half-field offense.
While leading the league in transition goals with nearly four a game and shooting 47.5 percent on fast breaks, Chaos also led the league in turnovers and ranked fourth in offensive efficiency. In order for them to make the leap from good to great, Chaos will have to cut down on the turnovers and execute in their half-field sets.
Game Matchup to Watch
Redwoods vs Chaos, July 27
Monday, July 27th, at 7:00 pm EST on NBCSN, the winner of the blockbuster Salcido-Jones matchup will be settled. Sergio Salcido went on The Inside Feed podcast and claimed that he is the better player, producing more in both college and last season in the PLL. While Jones brushed it off during this conversation with Paul Rabil on Unbuckled Chinstrap, this back-and-forth only stokes an already raging flame. Between last year’s fight that coined Blaze Riorden’s new nickname “Body Slam Blaze” and the fact that the Redwoods knocked the Chaos out of the playoffs, this is one of the most anticipated matchups of this upcoming PLL Championship Series.
Player to watch
As Nelson Rice brilliantly covered in his feature on Jarrod Neumann, Neumann is more than just a two-bombing, trash-talking defenseman. As a late comer to the game of lacrosse, Neumann explained how he finds any way possible to learn more about ways to improve his game. Now Neumann has thrust himself into a leadership role, asking Towers to allow him to step into the large vacancy left by Brodie Merrill’s departure to Waterdogs. Now a leader of a young defense, Neumann will not only be in charge of barking signals, but he will also resume his position as their number one cover defender.
However, if Chaos is looking to improve on last season and come home with the PLL Crown, Neumann has to demonstrate that he has improved as a cover defender. According to PLL Stats, Chaos allowed the highest unassisted shooting percentage on initiations from X. During pool play, Neumann will be tasked to guard Jordan Wolf, Ryder Garnsey, Christian Cuccinello, and reigning MVP Matt Rambo. Neumann won the PLL Defensive Player of the Year award last year and his play against these matchups will go far in determining if he can grab the award again.