Melanie Bárcenas made history Tuesday when she signed a contract with the San Diego Wave FC, becoming the youngest player signed with a club in the Women’s National Soccer League.
Bárcenas is just 15 years and 138 days old. She is the first local junior player to join the Wave and the first to do so through the NWSL’s under-18 entry mechanism, which allows clubs to place underage players on roster spots with the approval of a parent or guardian.
“I am very excited to sign my first professional contract with my hometown team, the San Diego Wave,” Bárcenas said in a press release on the Wave’s website.
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“It’s been a dream of mine to not only play in the NWSL, but to have the opportunity to represent this city since the Wave announcement last year. I know I’m young, but the team and coaching staff have been amazing, and I hope learn from them every day as I continue to develop.”
Bárcenas is something of a soccer prodigy as she has already been called up to training camps for the U14, U15 and U16 US Women’s National Team. She also appeared for the U17 Junior Girls National Team in matches against England.
She signed a name, image and likeness contract with Nike last Junemaking history as the first high school player to do so.
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“We are very pleased that Melanie and her family have decided to trust her hometown club as the place for her to begin her professional career,” added San Diego head coach Casey Stoney.
“San Diego Surf’s coaches have been instrumental in helping her develop as a person and as a player throughout her youth career. We are excited to maximize her potential in the years to come, while being patient and deliberate in furthering her development while making sure she retains the routine and normality of being a teenager.
Barcenas is younger than Chloe Ricketts, who signed with the Washington Spirit at 15 years and 238 days. Olivia Moultrie was 15 years and 286 days old when she signed with the Portland Thorns in June 2021.
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San Diego begins the season at home against the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday. The Wave went 10-6-6 in their first season last year.