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The North Carolina Courage sign 17 year old Riley Jackson to professional contract

By Tyler Trent

Riley Jackson captains the U-17 US National Team (Photo courtesy of US Soccer)

The North Carolina Courage announced the signing of 17-year-old midfielder Riley Jackson today to a guaranteed deal through 2025 with an option for an additional year.

The Roswell, Georgia, native played club soccer in ECNL with Concorde Fire SC, in United Women’s Soccer for Atlanta Panthers, and high school soccer at Blessed Trinity High School. Previously committed to the prestigious Duke University, Jackson has chosen to forgo NCAA eligibility and become a professional early as she signs with the North Carolina Courage.

At only 17 years old, Jackson already has a massive resume filled with too many accolades to list. However, some of the most impressive have come in the last few years.

Jackson served as a captain of the United States squad at the U-17 World Cup in 2022. Jackson also filled the captain role for the U-17 team as they won a CONCACAF Championship over Mexico, where she was awarded the Golden Ball for best player of the tournament.

Jackson with the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award (Photo courtesy of Gatorade)

Jackson was awarded the 2021-2022 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year award after a terrific sophomore season in high school. She was presented with the trophy at her school and virtually by Chicago Red Stars and USA National team forward Mallory Pugh (now Swanson), who won the 2014-15 season award. Jackson scored 14 goals and provided 18 assists in her sophomore year. In her junior year, Jackson scored 14 goals again while setting up eight goals for her teammates.

With this signing, the Courage will get a high-potential midfielder who can learn from some of the best, like Denise O’Sullivan and Narumi Miura. Jackson is already considered one of the best passers in high school soccer and the CONCACAF youth systems. She is a creative midfielder who always looks multiple steps ahead of her opponents to create the perfect chance. However, she can also make the goals using her length to move gracefully across the pitch to create shot opportunities.

A collection of Riley Jackson's highlights from 2019-2021

In addition to her offensive production, Jackson is also known for her defensive capabilities and awareness without the ball. Jackson has proven herself as a strong box-to-box midfielder who can contribute in multiple ways.

Jackson’s father and Blessed Trinity High School coach, Johnny Jackson, calls his daughter a perfectionist. However, what her father think sets her apart from other players the most is her fitness and drive to work for her team throughout an entire match, often covering more ground than any other players on the field.

In her free time outside of playing and training, Jackson stays involved in the soccer community as a licensed USSF referee and teaches camps and classes to younger kids in her community.

Through interviews and on the pitch, Jackson has shown maturity beyond her age and will look to make her mark in Cary with the North Carolina Courage as soon as possible.

To learn more about Riley Jackson’s story, check out this article from detailing her journey from being cut from a local Olympic Development Program at 12-years-old old to captaining the United States at the U-17 World Cup.