Angel City FC expected to select Alyssa Thompson at No. 1 in NWSL draft

Angel City Football Club had a bold plan and made a strong first impression as an expansion team last season.

Last week, the club made one of the boldest of moves, acquiring the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s 2023 NWSL Draft (3 p.m., CBSSN and 4 p.m., Paramount+).

Angel City originally had the fifth overall pick, but traded it, along with a 2024 second-round pick and $200,000 in allocation money to the Portland Thorns for Yazmeen Ryan.

Angel City then sent Ryan and $250,000 in allocation to NJ/NY Gotham FC for the No. 1 pick.

The No. 1 pick is expected to be used on Alyssa Thompson from Harvard-Westlake High. She would be the first high school student selected first overall in the NWSL.

Thompson was headed to Stanford and at the time of the trade, hadn’t yet registered for the draft. However, a couple of days after the trade was announced, she went through the final steps of declaring for the draft, forgoing her collegiate career.

Thompson, 18, was the Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore (48 goals, 14 assists), but didn’t play high school soccer in her junior or senior year. She also played with Total Futbol Academy.

Last year, Alyssa and her younger sister Gisele, signed NIL deals with Nike.

Thompson’s rapid ascent in the national team system led her to her first senior team call-up and eventually, debut in an Oct. 7 exhibition against England at Wembley Stadium. She also appeared in a match against Spain (Oct. 11) in Spain.

She became the youngest player to receive a call-up to the senior team since 2017 when Sophia Smith joined the group at 16.

Last August, she was the second-youngest player on the U.S. U-20 World Cup team.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how she’s going to turn out in our environment,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said at the time.

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Angel City FC acquires No. 1 pick in NWSL Draft – might it be Alyssa Thompson?

“It’s a great experience for her and good exposure and it’s also a good experience for us to work with her and we will see what happens from there.”

The move should boost what was a stagnant Angel City attack last season. Injuries sidelined Christen Press (ACL) and Sydney Leroux (ankle), who was acquired in a trade. Angel City scored just 23 goals last season, the third-lowest total in the league.

The move also shows how important the future is for Angel City.

“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,” General Manager Angela Hucles Mangano said in a statement when the trade was 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. … 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.”

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Angel City FC acquires No. 1 pick in NWSL Draft – might it be Alyssa Thompson?

Angel City also has a third-round pick (No. 27 overall).

The first round could have a heavy Southern California presence. Along with Thompson, Santa Clara’s Izzy D’Aquilla (JSerra High), Penn State’s Penelope Hocking (USC, Anaheim Canyon High) and Florida State’s Jenn Nighswonger (Huntington Beach) could also have their names called in the 12-pick first round.

The draft is four rounds, with 12 picks in each round.

The NWSL regular season begins on March 25. Teams can open training camp as early as Jan. 23, but no later than Feb. 6. Teams will be allowed a 6-8 week training camp.

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