Teenage sensation and high school student Alyssa Thompson was selected with the No. 1 overall pick of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft on Thursday.
Thompson was picked by Angel City FC, who later described the 18-year-old as a “phenom and generational player.”
“She’s a player who can make an immediate impact, but she’s also young and can develop and look to be a player that we’re building a future off of, too,” general manager Angela Hucles Mangano said in a statement on the team’s website.
Thompson, who is still a senior at Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, became the first player ever picked directly out of high school, having forgone her college eligibility and declaring for the draft last week.
“This was the hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make in my life,” Thompson said of choosing to enter the draft. “There were so many back and forths about it, but in the end, I decided that it was the best for me.”
Thompson – who also specialized in the 100 meters during high school – has been a highly touted prospect for years, with her abilities on the field evident from an early age.
In 2020, she and her younger sister, Gisele, moved to play for the Total Futbol Academy, a boys’ club in the Major League Soccer’s academy system, MLS NEXT.
Thompson credits this move as helping her get to where she is now, especially in terms of getting used to the physicality.
“The boys’ game, it’s super-fast and they’re super physical as well,” she explained. “You have to be able to play the ball quickly off one touch and pass accurately because, if you take one bad touch, they’re on you and you’ve already lost the ball.”
In 2021, she was named the 2021 High School Soccer Player of the Year after scoring 48 goals in 18 games with Harvard-Westlake School.
Last year, the then-17-year-old Thompson made her debut for the US Women’s National Team, coming on as a substitute in games against 2021 European champion England and Spain.
She now joins some of her USWNT compatriots, such as Christen Press and Sydney Leroux, at Angel City.
Thompson’s selection by Angel City could be the perfect setting for the LA native as she’ll be playing home games in her hometown. She even spent some time training with the team last preseason.
“Being able to play in front of my family and friends is something that’s really important to me,” she said. “LA is just such an amazing place, with different cultures and different people.”
Angel City is a majority woman-founded team which made its NWSL debut last season. The investor group is led by Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman, technology venture capitalist Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman and Alexis Ohanian, Serena Williams’ husband and the co-founder of Reddit.
The Kansas City Current picked Duke forward Michelle Cooper with the second pick of the draft.