The soccer world’s introduction to Alyssa Thompson, U.S. women’s national team member, was brief and uneventful.
During the squad’s October friendly against England, the 17-year-old subbed in for veteran Megan Rapinoe at the 83-minute mark. A few days later against Spain, she entered for Rose Lavelle at the 73-minute mark.
In both cases, Thompson found herself thrust into situations in which the USWNT was playing from behind — and based on the trajectories of the matches, comebacks were unlikely.
Still, despite her inopportune beginning with the national team, the youngster will have plenty of chances to make her mark, as coach Vlatko Andonovski plans to keep the Stanford commit on his roster going forward.
“Alyssa is here to stay,” he said Monday following the roster release for the USWNT’s November friendlies against Germany.
The plan, he said, is to continue to get Thompson acclimated to playing on the biggest stage as the United States prepares for next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“I think her having the chance to play in front of 76,000 people is incredible,” he said, referencing her appearance at London’s Wembley Stadium. “That is a step forward she made in her career. Actually, I would say several steps forward.”
Thompson, who is still in high school, is the youngest person on the roster, and the youngest to earn a full USWNT call-up since 16-year-old Sophia Smith in 2017. And even then, Smith didn’t see game action for three more years.
Her youth is at the forefront of Andonovski’s mind. The coach is focused on easing her into national competition at the senior level. She previously played for the U.S. youth national team at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in August.
“We do understand that she is young and for her the most important thing right now is just to get into the system and learn every time she is in the environment,” Andonovski said.
Giving Thompson room to grow is a priority for the coach, something that hasn’t changed since her first two caps.
“There are literally no expectations for her,” he said. “All we want from her is to help her develop, and if that happens to be that we can trust her a lot more to be on the field in the upcoming months, that’s great. If not, it’s OK.”
The teenager joins Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns) and Rapinoe (OL Reign) among the forwards on the roster.