Alyssa Thompson picked no. 1 by Angel City FC

Angel City FC chosen 18-year-old ahead Alyssa Thompson as the primary general decide on Thursday within the 2023 NWSL draft.

Thompson, a senior at Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, turns into the primary excessive schooler to be drafted within the No. 1 spot in NWSL historical past.

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“It’s actually actually surreal,” Thompson informed ESPN. “I’m honored I get to be talked about with the opposite first picks like Naomi Girma, Sophia Smith, Andi Sullivan. All of them are superb gamers and for me to be one other title on that checklist is so cool to me.

“I might’ve by no means thought, even a 12 months in the past, that I might be the primary excessive schooler to carry that spot.”

After Thompson’s choice, NY/NJ Gotham FC traded away the No. 2 decide to the Kansas City Current in trade for USWNT participant Lynn Williams, and the Current used that decide on Duke ahead Michelle Cooper. The Orlando Pride chosen Florida State defender Emily Madril at No. 3 and Gotham FC used the No. 4 decide to take her teammate Jenna Nighswonger, a central midfielder.

Angel City finally acquired the decide used on Thompson in a three-team commerce final week with the Portland Thorns and NY/NJ Gotham FC, buying and selling the membership’s 2023 first-round decide (No. 5), their 2024 second-round high decide and allocation cash to accumulate midfielder Yazmeen Ryan from the Thorns.

Angel City then despatched Ryan and an extra $250,000 in allocation cash to Gotham FC for the primary general decide, finalizing the deal. The Thorns used the no. 5 decide acquired from Angel City on Alabama midfielder Reyna Reyes, the 2022 SEC defensive participant of the 12 months.

“It’s an unimaginable assertion that we’re making in bringing Alyssa into Angel City as our No. 1 decide, and in addition what we did to get the No. 1 decide. Because we did not have that,” Angel City basic supervisor Angela Hucles Mangano informed ESPN.

“We needed to look each short-term and long-term in our technique … so the flexibility to usher in a participant like Alyssa permits us to do all of that.”

Thompson, who gained the Gatorade nationwide ladies soccer participant of the 12 months in 2021, made her nationwide workforce debut in September on the age of 17. At the 83-minute mark throughout a pleasant towards England, Thompson subbed in for Megan Rapinoe and earned her first worldwide cap.

Last June, Thompson and her youthful sister Gisele made historical past as the primary high-school athletes to signal title, picture and likeness contracts with Nike.

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Hucles Mangano added: “She’s a participant who can impression now, who can elevate our surroundings, convey us nearer to these objectives of successful a championship so much prior to a long-term technique.

“And she has years forward of her; she’s a participant that may proceed to develop. She is our phenom, generational participant that may come into Angel City. … For us, it was a no brainer.”

Thompson, who verbally dedicated to play at Stanford subsequent 12 months, mentioned her resolution to play professionally was tough. Just days earlier than the NWSL draft registration deadline final week, and after a lot deliberation together with her household, Thompson mentioned she determined to go professional. She had been speaking with Angel City for the previous couple of months.

“It was the toughest resolution I’ve ever needed to make,” Thompson mentioned. “But finally, I feel it got here all the way down to what’s going to be greatest within the second proper now.”

Thompson informed ESPN that her resolution hinged largely on the flexibility to pursue the next schooling whereas taking part in professionally, one thing that Angel City made some extent of emphasis since their preliminary talks.

“From the start it is all the time been one thing that if I’m going to go professional, I’m nonetheless going to get an schooling,” Thompson mentioned. “I wish to proceed to get higher, and since there’s a possibility to nonetheless go to school, why would not I do it?”

– Kassouf: Why Alyssa Thompson may very well be the long run for US ladies

According to Thompson’s mother and father, the choice to go professional grew to become extra streamlined as soon as there was a tentative path to taking part in professionally whereas pursuing a level. Thompson’s father, Mario, added that they’re nonetheless working by the plan and the place Thompson will attend courses subsequent 12 months, however the steps to make {that a} actuality are in movement.

Once the NWSL season kicks off on March 25, Thompson will take on-line courses to complete her senior 12 months of highschool and attend courses in-person at Harvard-Westlake when her schedule permits.

When it involves supporting not solely the remainder of her senior 12 months but in addition her greater schooling, Angel City mentioned that regardless of solely being of their second 12 months, they wish to set the usual in ensuring the membership is supporting its gamers on and off the sector.

“We positively are very intentional and wish to be that membership and that atmosphere that, irrespective of who you’re, it doesn’t matter what stage you’re in in your profession, you may have the chance to develop,” Hucles Mangano mentioned.

“That may very well be somebody on the finish of their profession; that may very well be somebody who’s popping out of highschool. But you continue to have that chance to develop. And I feel that is on the sector and off the sector.”

She added, “Understanding the place [the Thompson family] is coming from was one thing that was very straightforward for us to say that is one thing that Angel City desires to do for you, Alyssa. But additionally all of our gamers.”

Last September, Thompson, a Los Angeles native, attended her first Angel City recreation as a fan. Watching Angel City tackle Racing Louisville at their house stadium, Banc of California Stadium, Thompson sat within the stands together with her household and buddies and obtained to benefit from the full Angel City expertise.

“I used to be shocked as a result of I’ve by no means been to a recreation like that, particularly for girls’s soccer. The followers had been so loud and there is a whole fan part,” Thompson mentioned. “I obtained to see every thing up shut, and it was superior to observe.”

It was additionally, in keeping with Thompson, one of many first moments that she thought-about what it might really feel prefer to play for her house workforce.

“Watching them, I used to be similar to, ‘Wow, it might be cool to play right here.'” Thompson mentioned. “And now figuring out that I get to play there in entrance of my household, buddies and followers, I would not wish to be anyplace else.”

Despite not making the NWSL playoffs final season, Angel City performed in entrance of 4 sellouts and averaged 19,105 followers for its 11 house video games.

With the attainable return this spring of Christen Press, who tore an ACL final season, and an all-star roster together with one among Thompson’s idols, Sydney Leroux, Angel City informed ESPN they count on Thompson to regulate shortly to the skilled atmosphere and compete straight away for beginning time.

“The expectation that I’ve is that she’s going to come back in and compete,” Hucles Mangano mentioned. “She’s going to begin to assist elevate the bar for everybody else together with her aggressive nature. And that is precisely what we wish to create and what we wish to have when it comes to our tradition as a result of that’s what we have to create and to change into that championship kind of workforce.”

On the sector, Thompson mentioned she’s assured in her skill to go one-on-one, because of the numerous hours of training together with her youthful sister and youth nationwide workforce defender Gisele Thompson.

“I hope that I could be a aim scorer for them, that I can proceed to get higher and proceed to develop as a participant,” mentioned Thompson, who in contrast her recreation to France’s Kylian Mbappe.

“I feel with my pace that I might be capable of beat defenders on the wing anyplace within the entrance line, run behind the again line as nicely, taking over defenders, taking pictures so much, so I might create scoring possibilities, helping plenty of my teammates and having the ability to, if I lose the ball, defend and get again so we may very well be on the assault.”

Thompson, who stays a looking forward to the 2023 US ladies’s nationwide workforce World Cup workforce in New Zealand and Australia, says she is aware of the stress that comes with being a No. 1 decide. But, she added, she feels “prepared for this second.”

“I’ve put in plenty of laborious work for this, and I simply must remind myself that I can do that and I’m prepared for this,” Thompson mentioned. “Pressure makes diamonds, so I simply hope that I’ll thrive.”

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