Alyssa Thompson is responding to his first target for Angel City. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
Alyssa Thompson is a child. She’s an 18-year-old middle school student who loves her sisters and often throws long sleeves on her palms. She’s a daughter who lives with her parents in Southern California, and so understandably has been contacted as the next outstanding American football star.
And in his NWSL debut, he showed that all the propaganda, all the prophecies, all the seemingly exaggerated statements about his future greatness were actually a little inaccurate.
Because it’s not just the future. It’s today.
Even before the goal that pushed 22,000 people off their seats and thousands of others off their seats, Thompson blew his left hand at the BMO stadium on Sunday, lighting up the opening of Angel City’s season against Gotham. He had passed the defenders, some of whom had won the World Cup, and he carried the ball with him, never breaking the pace.
And then, less than 11 minutes into her first official game as a professional player, she slipped into a space bag just outside the box and picked the top corner. All four sides of the stadium have exploded. Her teammates, even goalkeeper Dijana Harai, teammates sprinted toward her and drowned her in joy. Thompson grabbed the role of captain Ali Riley, who was almost twice her age, and jumped up and down with teenage joy.
“I’m very happy,” she then explained with a feminine smile, that I could do this in my hometown, and in front of all my friends and family.
It’s a story that comes from Hollywood in different ways, and of course it’s not over there. It’s only just begun.
Thompson’s been electrocuting all night, probably the most electrocuting player in the entire NWSL. It took her only 20 minutes to make a statement that was undeniable. She flew up and down the field. Your walk was spectacular. And her skills match that.
The game ended 2-1 against Gotham – Angel City had another fantastic goal neutralized through video evaluation, then his leader coughed – but Thompson was the story. She’s everything Angel City paid for the first draft pick, everything Nike was looking for when Alisa was 17, everything was advertised on billboards and helped form an MLS NEXT boys’ academy.
And she’s everything right now.
Speed is known, Thompson is the second fastest in the distance. 100 meters in the California High School track last year, but the way she handled the physical condition of the NWSL and the way her brain adapted to the speed of the professional game were eye-opening. It prompted all sorts of surprises and even questions: Should Thompson go to the World Cup this summer?
She debuted for the U.S. national team last fall by getting off the bench in front of 76 fans.893 at Wembley Stadium. She is considered a long shot for the World Cup roster and was not invited to training camps in January and February. Her biggest obstacles are the six successful and talented wings ahead of her in the USWNT depth chart: Mal Swanson, Sophia Smith, Trinity Rodman, Megan Rapinoe, Lynn Williams and Ridge Purce.
To go to New Zealand in July, Thompson had to move three players away, and everyone made their own statement. On the weekend of the NWSL, five of the six players scored on their own. Rodman was the thief to win. O.L. R. Pierce and Williams combined for Gotham to startle Angel City.
So the answer to the question is “probably not.” Again, is there anything in the U.S. player pool – bright, anyone in the world – that Thompson could offer from the bank for 30 minutes?
“I just want to evolve and play at the highest level I can hope to put the World Cup on the list,” Thompson said last week.
But even if New Zealand is one step too far, too soon, it’s still the future. She’s still 18 years old. She’s still worried about her auction because she’s colliding with an Angel City game. She’s still in class and still has to graduate from Harvard Westlake in Los Angeles this spring.
But she showed no willingness to stick to the typical female football deadline. She was excited, but apparently not surprised by her exciting debut and goal. And it may be the safest bet in football that Sunday will be the first of many.