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Alyssa Thompson makes NWSL history

The 18-year-old Los Angeles native became the first highschooler to be drafted into the NWSL. Can she help lead Angel City to a title?

While most high school seniors look forward to prom and graduation, Alyssa Thompson has her eyes set on making her professional debut for Angel City FC. The 18 year old made history last Thursday when she became the first high school student to be drafted into the NWSL. 

From playing club soccer in SoCal to making her senior international debut with the USWNT, Thompson is only nine weeks away from taking the field at the Banc of California Stadium. And like any other high school phenom, she has heavy expectations for her debut.    

Always playing with the older kids

Fans are already describing Thompson as a generational player who will make splashes for her new team, and it’s easy to see why. She made waves in youth soccer when she joined Total Futbol Academy from the MLS Next, a youth soccer league managed by MLS founded in 2020. There, she played with the men’s U19s despite being just 17 and the only girl, giving her enough experience to earn serious consideration for a bigger stage. 

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski released the roster for friendlies against England and Spain last September, and fans and media were surprised when Thompson was included in the roster for the October friendlies. The SoCal native has represented the U.S. at the youth levels, but it has been five years since someone her age has been called up to the senior national team. But anyone who has seen her play knows that she is worth the hype. 

She is a dynamic winger with tremendous speed and great one-on-one abilities who helped the USA win the 2022 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship. It was a no brainer to call her up when she was one of the standout players of the tournament. Thompson made her official senior debut on October 7th against England and then played again a few days later against Spain. She was not called up to the January camp, which was a surprise, but this allows her to focus on the NWSL 2023 season which starts preseason later this month. 

From high school straight to the pros 

Thompson verbally committed to Stanford at just 15 years old before winning the 2021 Gatorade High School Soccer Player of the Year award. Attending Stanford was the plan until the youngster changed her mind and registered for the NWSL 2023 draft right before the deadline. But she probably would have gone to college had there not been a blockbuster trade between three teams in the league, giving her an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. 

Angel City FC sent the fifth overall pick, a 2024 second-round pick and $200,000 in allocation money to Portland in exchange for midfielder Yazmeen Ryan. Angel City then sent Ryan to Gotham along with an additional $250,000 in allocation money in exchange for the number one pick, which Gotham previously held. In total, the LA based team spent $450,000 with the possibility of drafting one player. In the NWSL, that’s basically a fortune. 

But it wasn’t just a possibility: Thompson’s commitment to Angel City was basically set in stone, allowing her to start her professional career in her hometown. No team in any league would do that unless it was a sure thing. It was made official when Angel City chose Alyssa Thompson as the first overall pick in the NWSL Draft. Just like that, the teenage Angeleno made history. 

Alyssa Thompson makes Angel City a force

Thompson will join Angel City to play alongside Christen Press, Ali Riley and Sydney Leroux, and that’s only a small list of big-name players on the roster. The 18 year-old will add more depth to an already attacking-filled roster and will have a big chip on her shoulder as she begins her pro career. If her 48 goals in 18 games in high school is anything to go by, there’s no doubt Thompson will get her name on the scoring sheet early on in the season and prove any doubters wrong. 

Angel City is already a high-caliber team, but with a talent like Alyssa Thompson on the roster, they have made it very clear they want to bring home a championship to Los Angeles. And if Thompson can help deliver a trophy to LA, she might turn into one of the biggest stars in the league.