Gisele Thompson: The USWNT prospect training with Angel City and blazing her own path to the top

Gisele Thompson NXGN GFXGetty/GOAL

It's the week before the CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship and GOAL is chatting to Gisele Thompson, the United States' promising young full-back, about how she has been preparing for the tournament. While almost all of her team-mates are playing for college teams across the country, Thompson has been training with an NWSL side in Angel City, one that missed out on the play-offs by just four points in its inaugural season last year.

When Thompson explains that participating in practise sessions with seasoned stars, players who have been to multiple World Cups for their countries, has been really "helpful" in preparing her for the trip to the Dominican Republic with the U20s, GOAL can't help but laugh a little and note that very few players across the tournament will have had that same preparation. The teenager lets out a giggle in response, a shy one, almost to deflect the praise insinuated by the point.

Her addition to Angel City's pre-season roster in January was the latest milestone in the exciting yet unorthodox path the 17-year-old has taken to date. Like her sister, Alyssa, who was picked at No.1 in the NWSL Draft earlier this year, Thompson has spent the last few years at Total Futbol Academy, a boys' club that competes in MLS Next.

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"They are my first and probably my last girls I'll coach," Mario Gonzalez, their coach at TFA, ponders, with a little laugh. His musing is a good indication of just how rare that path is for girls in the U.S to take. Gisele has been playing with the U17 boys' team and the experience has paid dividends. Gonzalez believes she's ready for the NWSL already. Though there is no rush, it only feels like a matter of time until that step is taken.

With Alyssa shining so brightly in the top league in the U.S. since she herself signed for Angel City this year, of course there is a lot of excitement about her younger sister and whether she can follow in her footsteps. But that excitement should be because Gisele is a huge talent in her own right, not because of anything else.

So, who is this teenage defender and what makes her future so bright?