Alyssa Thompson’s first World Cup experience was far from glamorous.
The 18-year-old forward played just 17 minutes during the tournament, and when she wasn’t on the field, she worked through some difficult feelings.
“Throughout the tournament, there were some days when I was just sad,” Thompson said in an appearance on the RE-CAP Show. “I felt really lonely some days, too. I feel like it’s a lot, that tournament. Playing or not, there’s different things too.”
Thompson, picked No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft by Angel City FC, helped lead the Under-20 U.S. Women’s National Team to gold in the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship.
She was called up to the senior team in April to replace an injured Mallory Swanson, and then was named to the World Cup squad.
“People were still trying to, I feel like, get me up to speed a little bit,” Thompson said of the World Cup. “I wasn’t playing that much, so, also having that. I was like happy for game day. I wasn’t as nervous as most people. I was more excited. I felt a lot like a fan watching the games.”
Christen Press, one of the co-hosts of the RE-CAP show along with Tobin Heath, empathized with Thompson. She recalled the her first World Cup, in 2015, when she was pulled from the starting lineup in the group stage. The USWNT went on to win the tournament.
“I don’t think I started the rest of the tournament,” Press said. “The team did not really perform well, and then I was no longer playing, and the team started winning. I was dealing with the tension of not meeting my own expectation, and then the team winning.
“I cried through most of that tournament.”