Alyssa Thompson picked No. 1 by Angel City FC

Angel City FC selected 18-year-old forward Alyssa Thompson as the first overall pick Thursday in the 2023 NWSL Draft.

A senior at Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, Thompson became the first high school draftee to be drafted to the #1 position in NWSL history.

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“It’s really surreal,” Thompson told ESPN. “I am honored to be mentioned along with other first picks like Naomi Girma, Sophia Smith and Andy Sullivan. They are all great players and for me to be another name on that list is very cool for me.

“I never would have thought, even a year ago, that I would be the first high school student to hold that position.”

After selecting Thompson, NY/NJ Gotham FC traded the #2 pick to Kansas City Current in exchange for USWNT player Lynn Williams, and Current used that pick on Duke forward Michelle Cooper. Orlando Pride selected Florida State fullback Emily Madrell at third and Gotham FC used fourth to select teammate Jenna Nigsunger, linebacker.

Angel City eventually acquired the pick used in Thompson in last week’s three-team deal with the Portland Thorns and NY/NJ Gotham FC, trading with the club’s 2023 first-round pick (#5), its 2024 second-round pick and Allocating money to buy midfielder Yasmin Ryan from the Thorns.

Then Angel City sent Ryan and an additional $250,000 in appropriation money to the Gotham Club for the first overall pick, finalizing the deal. The Thorns used the #5 pick acquired from Angel City on Alabama linebacker Reyna Reyes, the 2022 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

“It’s an incredible statement that we’re bringing Alyssa to Angel City as our first pick, and also what we did to get the first pick. Because we didn’t have that,” Angela general manager Hucles Mangano told ESPN.

“We wanted to look at both the short and the long term in our strategy…so being able to field a player like Alyssa enables us to do all of that.”

Thompson, who won the Gatorade National Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year in 2021, made her national team debut in September at the age of 17. At the 83rd minute mark during a friendly against England, Thompson’s run-in and Megan Rapinoe brought home the lead. First international cover.

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This past June, Thompson and her younger sister, Gisele, made history as the first high school athletes to sign contracts by name, image, and likeness with Nike.



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“She’s a player who can impact the present, who can elevate our environment, and bring us closer to our championship-winning goals much sooner than long-term strategy,” added Houghless-Mangano.

“And she has years ahead of her; she’s a player who can continue to develop. She’s our phenomenon, and a generation player who can come to Angel City. … For us, it was a no-brainer.”

Thompson, who made a verbal commitment to play at Stanford next year, said her decision to play professionally was a difficult one. Just days before last week’s NWSL draft registration deadline, and after much deliberation with her family, Thompson said she had decided to turn pro. She had been communicating with Angel City for the past two months.

“It was the hardest decision he’s ever made,” Thompson said. “But in the end, I think it comes down to what will be best at the moment.”

Thompson told ESPN her decision hinged largely on being able to pursue higher education while playing professionally, something Angel City has made a point of focus since their initial talks.

“From the beginning, it’s always been the case that if I’m going to be a professional, I’m going to keep getting an education,” Thompson said. “I want to keep getting better, and since there is an opportunity to get into college, why not do it?”

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According to Thompson’s parents, the decision to go professional was made simpler once there was a temporary path to playing professionally while pursuing a degree. Thompson’s father, Mario, added that they’re still working through the plan and where Thompson will be attending classes next year, but the steps needed to make that a reality are still being worked out.

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Once the NWSL season kicks off on March 25, Thompson will take classes online to finish her senior year of high school and attend classes in person at Harvard-Westlake when her schedule allows.

When it comes to supporting not only the remainder of her first year but also her higher education, Angel City said that despite being only in its second year, it wants to set the standard in making sure the club supports its players both on and off the field.

“We are certainly very keen and want to be that club and that environment in which, no matter who you are, no matter what stage you are at in your career, you have the opportunity to develop,” said Huckles-Mangano.

“This could be someone at the end of their career; it could be someone who’s out of high school. But you still have this opportunity to develop. And I think that’s on and off the field.”

She added: “Understand where [the Thompson family] It was coming from something that would have been so easy for us to say that this is something Angel City wants to do for you, Alyssa. But also all of our players.”

Last September, Thompson, a native of Los Angeles, attended her first game as a cheerleader. While watching Angel City take on Racing Louisville at their home stadium, Banc of California Stadium, Thompson sat in the stands with her family and friends and enjoyed the full Angel City experience.

“I was shocked because I had never been in a game like this before, especially for women’s football. The crowd was very loud and there is a whole section of fans,” said Thompson. “I got to see everything up close, and it was great to watch.”

It was also, according to Thompson, one of the first moments she thought about what it would feel like to play for her local team.

“I was watching them, and I was like, ‘Wow, it’s going to be great to play here,’” Thompson said. “And now knowing that I’m going to be playing there in front of my family and friends and my fans, I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

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Despite not making the NWSL playoffs last season, Angel City played against four sellouts and averaged 19,105 fans in their 11 home games.

With the potential return this spring of Christine Press, who tore up the ACL last season, and an all-star roster including one of Thompson’s stars, Sidney Leroux, Angel City told ESPN they expect Thompson to adapt quickly to the professional environment and compete immediately. for the start time.

“I expect she will enter the competition,” said Huckles-Mangano. “It’s going to start to help elevate everyone with its competitive nature. And that’s exactly what we want to create and what we want to have in terms of our culture because that’s what we need to create and become that championship type of team.”

Thompson said she is confident she can play on the pitch, thanks to the countless hours of practice with her younger sister and young national team defender Gisele Thompson.

“I hope to be their top scorer, to keep improving and to continue growing as a player,” said Thompson, who compared her playing style to Frenchman Kylian Mbappe.

“I think with my speed I can beat defenders on the wing anywhere in the front line, run behind the back line too, take on defenders, shoot a lot, so I can create goalscoring chances, help a lot of my teammates and be able to, if I lose the ball, Defend and come back so we can attack.”

Thompson, who remains optimistic about the 2023 USA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, says she knows the pressure that comes with being first choice. But, she added, she feels “prepared for this moment.”

“I put in a lot of hard work for this,” Thompson said, “and I just have to remind myself that I can do this and I’m ready for it.” “Pressure makes diamonds, so I just hope I thrive.”


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