LOS ANGELES — After making a dream come true a few months ago, Alyssa Thompson did it again. She was selected first overall by Angel City Football Club (FC) in the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft.
When Thompson made her debut for the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) in October, she fulfilled a fantasy. She played against England and Spain in Oct. of 2022 and exhibited impressive poise for a then 17-year-old. She will now play regularly against NWSL opponents in front of her hometown fans, achieving another goal.
“Being able to play in front of my family and friends is something that’s really important to me,” Thompson said. “I’m walking into an amazing organization where the fans are, I think, the best in the NWSL. They show up at every game and are just amazing. I know that this organization will make me a better player and continue to develop my skills.”
The 18-year-old forward is the youngest draft pick in NWSL history and the first player to be drafted out of high school to the NWSL. Thompson was committed to playing for the Stanford Cardinal but will now play professionally instead.
“[Becoming a professional] was the hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make, but in the end, I decided that it was the best for me,” she said. “I worked really hard to get to the place that I am right now. Training with the full team and being in that environment [last preseason], I thought, ‘Wow, I can do this.’ And being able to play against the best in the world every single day—I couldn’t pass that up right now.”
Despite not attending a university, Thompson will continue her education in an alternative form. The logistics of how it will take form are still being worked out.
Thompson’s selection follows Angel City’s participation in a multi-team trade to acquire the first overall pick. The club sent its fifth overall draft selection, a 2024 second-round draft pick, and $200,000 in allocation money to receive Yazmeen Ryan from Portland Thorns FC. Then, they dealt Ryan to NJ/NY Gotham FC for the first overall choice.
Thompson scored 48 goals in 18 games at Harvard-Westlake School and won the Gatorade High School Player of the Year award in 2021. She, and her sister Gisele, were also the first high school athletes to sign name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals when they did with Nike.
For Angel City, Thompson will develop around veteran forwards Christen Press, Sydney Leroux, and Simone Charley. Her scoring ability could bolster the club’s offense, as they finished ninth in the NWSL in total goals last season.
Thompson dribbling and change of pace are second to none. She also provides Angel City FC the versatility to play in different areas of the field. She also boasts imposing speed and is one of California’s top high school sprinters. Notably, she ran an 11.47-second 100-meter dash in 2021, ranking second-fastest in the state.
The club only made one other selection in the draft with pick No. 27, where they drafted goalkeeper Angelina Anderson. She participated in a clinic for prospective NWSL goalkeepers prior to being selected and dazzled the Angel City FC staff.
“She impressed our goalkeeper coach and coaches right from the get-go. Just in terms of manner and the way she carried herself,” said head coach Freya Coombe. “The way she inserted herself in the sessions, she had a very mature approach.”
Anderson previously played at the University of California, Berkeley, where she recorded 26 career shutouts, second in the school’s history.