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Alyssa Thompson: The teenage phenomenon who could be US soccer’s next great

<i>Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images</i><br/>Angel City Football Club President Julie Uhrman and first overall draft pick Alyssa Thompson pose with a jersey during the Angel City Draft Party.
Getty Images
Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images
Angel City Football Club President Julie Uhrman and first overall draft pick Alyssa Thompson pose with a jersey during the Angel City Draft Party.

By Matias Grez, CNN

Described by her new team Angel City as a “generational player,” teenage sensation Alyssa Thompson made history on Thursday by becoming the first high school student to be drafted in National Women’s Soccer League history.

Being drafted No. 1 overall is another big step in what has been an already impressive fledgling career.

Thompson already boasts two caps for the US Women’s National Team (USWNT), having made her international debut aged just 17 in a friendly against European champion England in September at a sold out Wembley Stadium.

Now 18 years old, Thompson 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.

Back in May 2022, the Thompson sisters secured a historic multiyear deal to become the first high school athletes to sign a name, image and likeness deal with Nike.

A Los Angeles native, Thompson was named the 2021 High School Soccer Player of the Year after scoring 48 goals in 18 games with Harvard-Westlake School, where she is still a senior.

Thompson is also no slouch, competing in the 100 meters during high school and recording top 10 times in the state of California during her three years running track.

According to Angel City, she recorded the sixth fastest time in the state in 2022.

Able to play in all three positions across the front line, as well as in midfield, Thompson was able to showcase her talents to Angel City last year when she joined the club for preseason training camp.

“Training with the full team and being in that environment, I thought: ‘Wow, I can do this,'” she told the Angel City website.

Thompson had verbally agreed to play for Stanford next year, according to ESPN, but chose to forgo her college eligibility and declared for the draft last week, a stipulation for high school athletes if they want to be considered for the NWSL draft.

ESPN reports that Thompson will complete her senior year of high school at Harvard-Westlake by taking online classes once the NWSL season gets underway on March 25, but will attend classes at the school when her schedule allows.

According to ESPN, Thompson and her parents said studying for a degree remains a priority alongside pursuing her professional soccer career, something Angel City said it will help Thompson organize next year.

“From the beginning it’s always been something that if I’m going to go pro, I’m still going to get an education,” Thompson told ESPN. “I want to continue to get better, and since there’s opportunity to still go to college, why wouldn’t I do it?”

Thompson’s historic selection at No. 1 in the draft continues her meteoric rise through the US Soccer ranks and she will now regularly be playing in front of almost 20,000 fans at Angel City’s Banc of California Stadium.

And with the Women’s World Cup set to begin on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand, don’t be surprised if Thompson earns herself a place in the USWNT squad for the tournament.

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