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Where does Alyssa Thompson go from here?

The USWNT and Angel City youngster has limitless potential, but her place at the Olympics is in limbo.

7 min read

I confess that, upon entering a thought experiment and whipping up a long list of players potentially in the mix for the U.S. women’s national team’s Olympics roster, I completely forgot to include Alyssa Thompson. 

This is a player who has World Cup caps, earned when she was only 18 years old! It was a glaring oversight on my part. And yet, the oversight itself was telling. 

Thompson exploded onto the scene in October of 2022 when she was capped for the first time by the USWNT exactly one month before her 18th birthday. Three months later, Angel City moved heaven and earth to make her the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft. She played in 21 out of 23 games for Angel City last year — only missing the two games played during the World Cup warmup — while logging 62% of possible minutes in those 21 matches. 

And she produced in those minutes.

According to American Soccer Analysis, her 0.10 goals added above average per 96 minutes (g+/96) tied her for fifth among the 23 wingers who logged at least 1,000 regular-season minutes in 2023. As a quick refresher, ASA’s goals added metric measures the value of a player’s on-ball contributions by how much they impact their team’s chances of scoring and conceding. Her dribbling above average per 96 score of 0.09 tied her for third out of all 124 outfield players who notched at least 1,000 minutes. 

She could also do things like this. 

What, was Vlatko Andonovski not supposed to take her to New Zealand? Mal Swanson tore her patellar tendon in April, and the U.S. squad needed a winger. Here was a young player whose touch was possibly otherworldly and whose unpredictability could befuddle defenses. It was a match made in heaven. 

She’s in a different place now. Swanson is back in the USWNT player pool. Thompson missed the Gold Cup due to a back injury and was left at home for the SheBelieves Cup. 

Plus, her sterling advanced metrics have taken a hit in the early going of this 2024 NWSL season, where four matchdays are already in the books. The sample size is small, but her g+ above average per 96 currently sits at -0.10, good for just 22nd out of 31 wingers with at least 150 minutes in 2024. Her dribbling production? Well, that’s dropped to -0.04, placing her 142nd out of 162 outfield players with at least 150 minutes played. 

Thompson needs to adapt in order for her development to continue. As it turns out, that’s exactly what she’s doing right now at Angel City and if she continues, there may be an Olympics spot for her yet.

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