From youth soccer to the World Cup in 9 months: USWNT phenom Alyssa Thompson takes the spotlight

NEW YORK - Nine months ago, Alyssa Thompson was playing youth soccer. In July, the 18-year-old forward will test herself against the best after being named in the four-time champions United States' squad for the Women's World Cup.

It has been a dizzying rise for Thompson, the second-youngest ever named in a U.S. World Cup squad.

"What a turn of events," said head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who called her into camp for an April friendly against Ireland as a replacement for the United States' injured top scorer Mallory Swanson. "In October, she was playing youth soccer, and now in July, she will be at the biggest stage in women's soccer, in soccer in general."

Andonovski named his 23-player squad on Wednesday for the tournament that kicks off on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand, selecting a number of fresh faces among the veterans in a bid for an unprecedented third consecutive title.

Thompson has only three senior national team appearances under her belt, but the first overall pick in the 2023 National Women's Soccer League draft is used to being thrown into high-pressure situations. She earned her first cap in a trial-by-fire at England's iconic Wembley Stadium in front of more than 76,000 fans as the U.S. played the Lionesses in an October friendly.

They lost 2-1 but Thompson earned the admiration of the U.S. coaching staff, who were bowled over by the poise she showed.

"(We were) very excited for her from the moment we saw her in our environment," Andonovski told reporters. "(She is a) player with some exceptional skills and exceptional abilities. And we think that she is going to be important for us in the World Cup."

2023 USWNT World Cup roster

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Toby Davis)

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