Popp Just Became A USL1 Champion, But Is He Set For Free Agency?
Former MLS SuperDraft pick Preston Popp added a USL League One winner’s medal as his first professional honours, but it looks like the Montreal-born forward might be on his way out of the club.
The 23-year-old dual national has featured quite sparingly for North Carolina FC since his arrival for a 2023 campaign that marked a return to his former youth club.
We had eyed him as one to to watch in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, though he ultimately went unselected. The UNC Charlotte standout – who won a golden boot at the varsity level in 2021 – then made history as Rochester New York FC’s first-ever MLS NEXT Pro signing, but found his contributions limited to 250 minutes over nine matches last year.
His return to North Carolina hasn’t fared much better in terms of game time, with Popp scoring a single tap-in after nabbing just 170 minutes of game time split between 15 appearances – an average of just 11 minutes per appearance. Having not been named to the team roster for last night’s championship-winning match against Charlotte Independence, it looks like his time with the club may be over.
It’s worth noting that North Carolina FC does have a club option for a further year, though the expectation is his contract will simply expire on November 30. At that point, he might prove an intriguing prospect for a Canadian Premier League side: he has a decent goalscoring record at the collegiate level, but simply hasn’t adjusted to professional heights as of yet. If he can find his groove, however, the Montreal-born baller could be a sharp pickup.
The son of former Montreal Alouettes and Argos GM Jim Popp, Preston’s youth career saw him play for the TFC Academy, NCFC Academy, New York Red Bulls U-23, and the Charlotte Soccer Academy, where he once scored 24 goals in a single USSDA U-18 season. He also helped North Carolina FC finish second in its division of the USSF Development Academy, with the forward having scored an astounding 25 goals in 28 games in 2017.
Header Image Photo Credit: North Carolina FC