Teenage forward Alyssa Thompson goes first overall in the NWSL draft to Angel City FC

Teenage forward Alyssa Thompson goes first overall in the NWSL draft to Angel City FC

Angel City FC selected teen forward Alyssa Thompson with the first pick in the Women’s National Soccer League draft on Thursday.

The 18-year-old Thompson, named the 2021 Gatorade High School Soccer Player of the Year after scoring 48 goals in 18 games for the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, made her debut for the senior US team this fall past.

“Alyssa Thompson, for us, is a phenomenon and a generational player,” Angel City general manager Angela Hucles Mangano said. “She’s a player who can make an immediate impact, but she’s also young and can develop and look like a player we’re building a future on as well.”

Thompson had verbally committed to Stanford, but chose to forego his college eligibility to go directly to the professional level.

The first round of the 12-team draft saw three players from Florida State and two from Virginia selected and the North Carolina Courage made four selections.

The Kansas City Current switched to pick second, sending US international forward Lynn Williams to Gotham FC to take MAC Hermann Trophy-winning Duke forward Michelle Cooper as the NCAA’s best female soccer player.

Cooper, 20, scored 19 goals and added 11 assists last season for the Blue Devils.

Orlando City selected Florida State center back Emily Madril with the third pick. Madril signed with the NWSL last year after announcing that she would waive the remainder of her NCAA eligibility. The league then loaned Madril to Sweden’s BK Häcken FF until the end of the year.

Florida State offensive midfielder Jenna Nighswonger, a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist, was fourth for Gotham FC.

The Portland Thorns then took Alabama defenseman/midfielder Reyna Reyes, who is coming off a season in which she was named SEC Defender of the Year, a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist and United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American.

North Carolina selected Notre Dame forward Olivia Wingate with the sixth pick.

The Chicago Red Stars used the seventh overall pick to select Penn State midfielder/forward Penelope Hocking, who was USC’s all-time leading scorer before transferring to the Nittany Lions.

Houston traded the eighth pick to North Carolina plus $100,000, a 2024 first-round pick and a 2023 international berth in exchange for Mexican international forward Diana Ordonez and the 30th pick.

North Carolina used the pick to select Cal center Sydney Collins, an Oregon native who has dual Canadian and US citizenship. Father Brett played three NFL seasons as a linebacker with the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams while mother Susan played volleyball in Canada.

The Courage then took Florida State midfielder Clara Robbins ninth and Virginia forward Haley Hopkins in 11th.

Robbins played in 110 games in his college career with 17 goals and 25 assists. Hopkins led the Cavaliers with 14 goals, including five game winners.

Virginia forward Alexa Spaanstra was tenth to Kansas City.

Defending champion Portland, with its second pick, closed out the first round by taking Santa Clara forward Izzy D’Aquila overall. Aquila had 50 career goals from him in 78 appearances for the Broncos.

Angel City, which missed the playoffs last season as an expansion team, acquired the first overall pick in a three-team trade last week.

First, they got midfielder Yazmeen Ryan from Portland in exchange for this year’s fifth overall pick, a 2024 second-round pick and $200,000 in allotment money. Angel City then sent Ryan to Gotham with US$250,000 in allocation money for the first pick.

Thompson won the first of his two caps against England on 7 October. At 17 years and 334 days, she was the youngest player to debut for the US. She has four goals in eight international appearances at the under-20 level.

Thompson played club soccer for Total Futbol Academy, and at age 17, she featured at under-19 level as the league’s only female player.

There were 13 Canadians registered for the four-round draft, which was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

That list did not include highly touted fullback Jayde Riviere, who has already made 36 caps for Canada and was part of their team that won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 21-year-old from Markham, Ontario has been linked to a move to England’s FA Women’s Soccer League with Manchester United, reportedly among those interested. United is already home to Canadian forward Adriana Leon.

In September, Riviere announced that he had played his last game for the University of Michigan and was taking time off to recover from an injury that required surgery before turning pro.

A midfielder who only goes by one name, Quinn is the highest drafted Canadian in the NWSL. They were third overall to Duke’s Washington Spirit in 2018. Evelyne Viens was taken fifth overall by Sky Blue FC out of the University of South Florida in 2020, while forward Deanne Rose was taken tenth overall by North Carolina in 2021 from the University of Florida.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 12, 2023

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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