LOS ANGELES — Angel City FC on Thursday selected 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson with the first pick of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) draft, making the Los Angeles native the first player in league history drafted directly out of high school.
"Alyssa Thompson, for us, is a phenom and generational player," said Angel City general manager Angela Hucles Mangano.
"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."
Thompson is the youngest draft pick in league history and is still in high school at L.A.'s Harvard-Westlake. She declared for the draft last week, opting to forgo her college eligibility and potential overseas offers to suit up for her hometown team.
The moment when Alyssa Thompson became the youngest draft pick in NWSL history pic.twitter.com/IF5FfVtV9R— espnW (@espnW) January 12, 2023
And with the first pick of the NWSL Draft...✨ALYSSA THOMPSON✨ pic.twitter.com/31e4hSGQXW
— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) January 12, 2023
Representing Los Angeles
We have selected Alyssa Thompson as the first pick of the 2023 #NWSLDraft!
— Angel City FC (@weareangelcity) January 12, 2023
"This was the hardest decision that I've ever had to make in my life," Thompson said.
"There were so many back and forths about it, but in the end, I decided that it was the best for me."
The forward-midfielder, who appeared as a late substitute in two U.S. women's national team matches last fall, joins a star-studded Angel City roster that includes forwards Christen Press and Sydney Leroux.
"As a forward, you obviously like to get the ball," said the speedy Thompson, a former track and field athlete who specialized in the 100 meters.
BTW Alyssa Thompson runs the second fastest 100 meters in California 11.74 secondsAngel City might literally be runnin’in 2023
— Attacking Third (@AttackingThird) January 5, 2023
"When the defenders are forcing you out, I love to play wing to get in those positions and cross, but I also like to play striker and make runs in behind the line."
Angel City is looking to take the next step after making its splashy debut last season as a celebrity-backed expansion team playing in the electric atmosphere of the Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park.
While she is delighted to be able to play in front of family and friends, it is the opportunity to face off against top-tier talent that really drives her.
"Being able to play against the best in the world every single day - I couldn't pass that up right now," she said.
The Kansas City Current selected Michelle Cooper with the second pick and the Orlando Pride chose Emily Madril with the third pick of the draft, which was held at the Philadelphia Convention Center and conducted in person for the first time since 2020.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Bradley Perrett)