Connor Presley is particularly well-traveled for his age. At just 22, the Revolution II winger has played professional soccer in four cities–including an abroad stint in Leeds, England–and has trialed in Portugal and Turkey. In 2020, he added another layer to his career, joining New England Revolution II in the USL League One.
Presley’s detailed résumé shapes him into one of the more experienced figures on Revolution II, a team composed of many teenagers and first-year professionals. So, as Revolution II looks to bounce back from a ninth-place finish in 2020, Presley’s wisdom, experience, and maturity will certainly play a key role in determining the team’s success.
Presley received his first taste of highly competitive soccer with FC Dallas Academy, an esteemed developmental program that’s produced the likes of Chris Richards, Reggie Cannon, and Weston McKennie.
Like most MLS academies, the tie between the first team and youth teams in Dallas is robust. Presley recalls training adjacent to the first team, giving him and his teammates front row seats to professional training. Players from the youth teams were occasionally called into first-team drills in Dallas, too, offering school-aged players an invaluable opportunity.
Playing in Dallas was a big step-up for Presley, who joined the Academy after a year of high school soccer in Austin. In his pivot to D-Town, Presley moved away from his family and into a housing accommodation with some of his teammates. It was a full immersion in the soccer world, but Presley–who had professional aspirations–was completely committed.
During his time with the Academy, Presley weaved Coerver training, a soccer program focused on technical development, into his routine. While training with Coerver, Presley developed a relationship with the program’s director, who introduced a training opportunity in Portugal. Presley was hooked.
Presley’s stint in Portugal didn’t last long, since the 17-year-old ran into age-related issues that hindered his ability to train, but another opportunity emerged in Leeds, England, where Presley’s age wouldn’t present an obstacle. In Leeds, Presley was able to play with Nostell Miners Welfare–a side in the English 9th Division–where the winger/forward netted 12 goals in 19 appearances. It was a formative experience for Presley, who would’ve extended his stay, too, if it wasn’t for a visa problem.
When Presley returned home in 2017, he found a roster spot at Lonestar SC Academy, where he knew the head coach. Presley didn’t join until the tail end of the season, though, but the stint did give him a chance to catch the eye of San Antonio FC–a USL Championship side who Lonestar played against–who would later recruit Presley to their 2017 roster.
For the next two years, Presley played in San Antonio, where he was one of the youngest players on the team. He struggled to find consistency in his freshman season, but by year two, he consistently fought for game time, starting in 15 of 23 games.
In 2019, Presley was on the road again, traveling northeast to Loudoun United, a USL Championship team in Virginia. An affiliate of D.C. United, Loudoun United offered Presley a chance to continue his momentum from 2018–and he took full advantage. Presley started 25 out of 28 games in 2019, scoring two goals and supplying three assists. He even earned Goal of the Month in May for his highlight-reel long shot against Charlotte Independence.
During his stay with Loudoun, Presley trained and played with D.C. United multiple times, including in an exhibition match against Real Betis in 2019. (In that game, Presley played against Wilfred Kaptoum, now a midfielder for the Revolution.) His short time with D.C. also gave him a chance to meet Wayne Rooney, who Presley grew up idolizing as a Manchester United fan.
After three seasons in the USL Championship, Presley received a convincing call from Revolution II, a side entering their inaugural season in the USL League One. While the league was a slight downgrade from the USL Championship, Presley said the reputation of the franchise sold him, as well as the built-in possibility of working up to the first team.
In his first year with Revolution II, the team accrued a 5-8-3 record, finishing ninth out of 11 teams in the division. While the developmental team inevitably faced squad rotation, Presley was a staple on the roster, starting in 12 of the 16 games he played in. Despite surpassing 1,000 minutes, though, the winger failed to score a goal in 2020.
With a goalless season fresh in his mind, Presley’s recently concentrated focus on his offensive punch, aspiring to contribute more in 2021. He’s shown prowess in front of the net before–just look at his time in England–so it’s just a matter of finding that form.
Presley’s recent time in preseason with the first team–where he’s played alongside the likes of Carles Gil, Gustavo Buo, and Teal Bunbury–should definitely help.
“It’s been great,” Presley said of his experience with the Revolution in preseason. “Every day you’re learning something. I’ve been watching [the first-team players’] habits; seeing what makes them effective and how they are creating goals. Being able to watch and be on the field with them, it’s definitely a big learning opportunity.”
On Tuesday, USL League One announced that Revolution II would open their season on April 10 against Inter Miami II in Florida. It’ll be Presley’s sixth professional season, which isn’t too bad for 22 years old.
“I’m excited to start playing some competitive games,” Presley said. “ I’m excited to get going and I think everybody else is too. We want to hit the ground running and really get after it this season.”