Angel City Football Club selected Harvard-Westlake forward Alyssa Thompson with the first choice in Thursday’s National Women’s Soccer League draft.
The 18-year-old registered for the draft last week, decommitting from Stanford. She had made a non-binding verbal commitment in 2020 to attend Stanford, beginning in the fall of 2023, before the start of her sophomore season with the Wolverines.
“This was the hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make, but in the end, I decided that it was the best for me,” Thompson said Thursday when asked about her decision to turn professional by Monday’s 9 p.m. Pacific Standard Time deadline to register for the draft.
“I worked really hard to get to the place that I am right now. Training with the full team and being in that environment (during the 2022 preseason), I thought, `Wow, I can do this.’ And being able to play against the best in the world every single day, I couldn’t pass that up right now.”
Thompson was the runner-up in voting for the 2022 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, behind San Diego Wave FC midfielder/forward Jaedyn Shaw. Thompson scored four goals in eight games with the U.S. women’s under-20 national team, including one in three games in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Thompson made her debut with the U.S. women’s national team Oct. 7 in a 2-1 loss to European champion England in an exhibition at London’s famed Wembley Stadium, the first player born in 2004 to play for the team. She also played in the U.S.’ 2-0 loss to Spain in an exhibition Oct. 11 in Pamplona.
Thompson has played for the U-17 Total Futbol Academy boys’ team in the MLS Next youth soccer league. She was the Gatorade National Soccer Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season, the second sophomore to receive the national honor for girls’ soccer, which has been presented annually since the 1997-98 season.
ACFC announced last Thursday it had made two trades to acquire the top pick. It first dealt its first-round choice, the fifth overall selection, to the Portland Thorns, along with its second-round choice in the 2024 draft and $200,000 in allocation money in exchange for midfielder Yazmeen Ryan.
ACFC then traded Ryan and $250,000 in allocation money to Gotham FC in exchange for the No. 1 pick.
“We were extremely proud of the product we put on the field in our inaugural season, but we have our sights set on making the playoffs and winning championships,” ACFC general manager Angela Hucles Mangano said in a statement when the trades were announced.
“We know that in order to achieve these goals, we have to set ourselves up for on-field success for many years to come, which is why we wanted to be able to control our destiny with the No. 1 overall draft pick of the 2023 draft. We are focused on making as big of an impact on the field as possible, and we look forward to being able to do so in our second season.”
ACFC finished eighth in the 12-team league in its inaugural 2022 season with an 8-9-5 record for 29 points, four behind the Chicago Red Stars, the final qualifier for the six playoff spots.
ACFC averaged a league-high 19,105 fans per game, including four sellouts at the 22,000-seat Banc of California Stadium.