Alyssa Thompson can count on USWNT veterans for help

Acrobatics from Angel City FC forward Alyssa Thompson
Acrobatics from Angel City FC forward Alyssa Thompson / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Shining in the spotlight can be tough and that can only be compounded if you’re a teenager. Say that spotlight gets wider and suddenly, you’re a teenager carrying the burden of national expectations…well, what’s a teen to do?

For starters, you can rely on a little help from your friends. For NWSL club Angel City sensation Alyssa Thompson, those friends happen to be the tried-and-true veterans of the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Though questionable how much help she’ll need, the 18-year-old who has been called up a handful of times in the past year has a strong possibility of joining the World Cup roster this summer.

“All the players on my team have been super helpful with just trying to help me know what to expect with international play,” Thompson said. “They really helped me just know what my goal is and tell me what it takes to get there and all the extra details that it takes.”

Angel City has been instrumental in her development, as a professional player and as a student, making sure she’s on track with school and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

“For us, it’s about putting her in the best position for success,” head coach Freya Coombe said. “I think it’s about how we use her in games to keep her fresh and to keep her enjoying the moment, enjoying the sport.

“I think it’s also about working collectively with her support network and managing her school schedule versus training when we’re putting meetings in the week, when we’re asking her to do extra, limiting the amount of additional activities that are non-essential for the club. I think that so far, we’re doing a good job of being able to manage that as a collective group.”

And it is paying off. Thompson is thriving with the club and leads the stats with five starts in six matches and three goals thus far this season.

“She’s been playing really well. I think that we are seeing some variations of her game in terms of the spaces that she’s attacking and where she’s looking threatening,” Coombe said. “I think that we are seeing her develop in a defensive capacity and seeing her both sides of the ball and her defending increasing and being better as the weeks go on.”

The Thompson family must be – deservedly – besides itself with the best kinds of problems at hand: If Alyssa skips the U-20 CONCACAF Championship later this month because of the USWNT nod, her younger sister Gisele will be there.

San Diego Wave also did not release their 18-year-old sensation, Jaedyn Shaw, who has started every game for the club and also boasts a three-goal tally.

“It’s my choice not to release her,” said head coach Casey Stoney. “She’s wanted by the national team. Unfortunately, they don’t run through FIFA windows. And even if they did, the FIFA windows here aren’t even respected. We’ve got six key players out with injuries. It’s my job to look after the club.

“We just can’t release her right now. She’s a starter for us, she’s a main feature. She’s been a key player for us this season and we can’t afford to miss her during this period.”

The Thompson sisters were also the first high school athletes to sign Name, Image and Likeness deals with Nike.