“I feel like the school was really hard, just because I wasn’t going every day,” Alyssa Thompson states while painting during her “Meet the 23” video. You can forgive Thompson if she’s a bit tired of having to rehash her last year over, and over, and over again, but you can also understand why it’s the first question most people ask her.
Very few stories in American sports rival the last year of Alyssa Thompson’s life. For perspective, last July, Thompson was gearing up for the U-20 World Cup and preparing for her senior year at prestigious Harvard-Westlake in Studio City, CA. The biggest commitment for her at the time was her pending commitment to attend and play soccer at Stanford. Then, a month before her 18th birthday, she made her senior national team debut in England, in a tiny stadium called Wembley, against the reigning European champions.
“I was so nervous on the sideline. I do not want to mess up.” was Thompson’s reply to her experience then, a player still a month away from being able to vote. Thompson didn’t mess up. Rather, she impressed the USWNT coaching staff and would stay on their radar as the NWSL off-season progressed.
Then, prior to the NWSL Entry Draft in January, Angel City FC, the shiny new club in Los Angeles, took a huge swing. They traded picks and allocation money, working with both Gotham FC and Portland Thorns FC, to broker a deal that would get them the #1 pick in the draft. By the end of that day, everyone knew they wanted to use that pick on the hometown kid, Alyssa Thompson. Already signed with Nike via an NIL deal, along with her sister, Thompson had decided to forgo college soccer, though not college” and turn pro. It put people on notice and it placed mounting pressure on Thompson, a child prodigy of a player who now had that neon sign that read “next” over her head.
So far, Thompson seems up for the challenge and all that comes with it. She has an extremely tight family unit and is notoriously close with her football playing sister Giselle. Her parents seem nurturing while also protecting their daughters for the ills that can still befall an 18 year-old. But most importantly, Alyssa Thompson is finding success with Angel City and the USWNT because of her football.
There are many reasons to root for Thompson and to have wanted her on the plane, but her ability on the dribble, her shot selection and shooting ability, her vision, her defensive tenacity and work rate, and her audacity, made adding her late to the US squad an easy call for Vlatko Andonovski and his staff.
“Alyssa Thompson has the ability to play against teams in the low block and has the ability to break down complex defenses,” Andonovski said of Thompson back in April after she replaced an injury Mallory Swanson against Irelend. “She is an exciting player. She has abilities to turn in small areas. And not just to turn, but she accelerates with a ball at her feet and runs at defenses with confidence.”
Indeed, Thompson plays with the confidence and cockiness that can only come with being so young. That may prove to be a plus for the US, who will need a player or two who is too young to know that they shouldn’t. Thompson has done this already, scoring the first goal of the preseason and regular season at home for Angel City. The last year for Thompson has moved as fast as she does on the pitch, and for her, there is no slowing down, but for the youngest member of the team, she can be sure about her football on the pitch. She’s played in front of seventy thousand plus at Wembley, but truly, Thompson’s at her best when she plays like it’s just her and Giselle in the backyard, with no one watching. The world should tune in.
Theme song for Alyssa Thompson: 777 - Silk Sonic