LOS ANGELES — On one of the top floors of Nike Headquarters in Los Angeles on Thursday, sat a white couch. That couch was flanked by dozens of video cameras, local and national reporters, friends, family, and coaches past, present, and future. As the blaring music reached a whisper before finding complete silence, the 18-year-old everyone was there to see took her seat right in the middle. With her younger sister and parents by her side, Alyssa Thompson saw one of the toughest decisions she ever had to make culminate with her watching her wildest dreams become reality as she was selected No. 1 overall by Angel City FC in the 2023 NWSL Draft.
After completing the wildest trade of the offseason to get the top pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft, Angel City FC made it official by selecting the Los Angeles-area native. Just to give you an idea at just how much Angel City wanted her, as if pulling off a four-team trade to secure the top spot to get her wasn’t enough, ACFC Co-Founder and President Julie Uhrman said this shortly after the team’s selection: “Angel City is a special team and Alyssa is just going to make us stronger and better. She is a phenom.”
It isn't the first time “phenom” and Thompson have shared the same sentence. From early childhood Thompson was leaving much older players in her wake of destruction. Snatching souls and breaking ankles before all her adult teeth came in. In 2021, Thompson was named Gatorade Girls’ Soccer National Player of the Year after her mouth-watering 48 goals in just 18 games for Harvard-Westlake School. She spent time developing not just with the U.S. Youth National teams as she rose the ranks, but also with teams like Santa Clarita Blue Heat in the United Women's Soccer league (UWS).
At 17-years-old Thompson joined MLS Next club Total Fútbol Academy’s U-19 side. She was the only woman in the league. While only spending a brief time there, it was an experience she feels played a role in her feeling confident with the decision to turn pro.
“I feel like boys do this all the time, skip college and go straight into the MLS,” said Thompson to reporters assembled after her selection. “Their speed of play helped me for the pro environment. One bad touch and they’re on you, it’s physical, so that really helped with my touches.”
After months of thought and weighing pros and cons, Alyssa, with the unending support of her family, de-committed from Stanford University, to turn pro in the NWSL. Now, she knows she will be able to stay at home a bit longer and help build her legacy right in her hometown, for Angel City. A big part of that, is stressing this decision was never about college itself, as education was and is still a major part of who she is and what she wants to accomplish not just in soccer, but life.
“This decision was never college or pro. I’m still going to be working towards my degree,” said Thompson. “I hope little girls look up to me and think about wanting to continue their soccer careers and being the best they can, but also not giving up the education part of their life because that's always been something super important to me.”
Phenom...Future face of the franchise...Potentially eventually best in the world? All weighty titles that can cripple young talent when forced to carry such mantles. However, if Thursday showed anything early on, it's that Thompson can handle it. Despite the obvious feelings of being overwhelmed by the moment and subsequent media frenzy that transpired, Thompson handled it all with class, confidence, and a smile on her face. Beneath the immediate anxiety, there’s a clear excitement and a desire to prove Angel City's faith well-placed.
Excited for the season ahead? Welcome Alyssa with a comment below!