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NEW youngest player in NWSL history — San Diego Wave sign 15-year-old Melanie Barcenas

San Diego Wave FC will start the 2023 season on Saturday, but the team has already made history this year. On Tuesday the club signed the youngest player ever in the NWSL when 15-year-old Melanie Barcenas penned a three-year deal with San Diego.

Barcenas takes the title of youngest player in NWSL history away from Chloe Ricketts who signed with the Washington Spirit earlier in March. Ricketts was 15 years and 283 days old when she signed, meanwhile Barcenas was 15 years and 138 days old when she joined San Diego.

Barcenas is a San Diego native who has played with the U.S. youth national team while playing her club ball with the San Diego Surf. She's the first youth homegrown player to sign with an NWSL team.

“I know I am young, but the team and coaching staff have been amazing, and I look forward to learning from them every day as I continue to develop,” Barcenas said in a news release. “It’s been a dream of mine to not just play in the NWSL but to have the opportunity to represent this city since the announcement of the Wave last year.”

Under the league’s new Under-18 Program Barcenas will occupy a full roster spot, will reside with a parent or legal guardian until she turns 18 years of age, may not be traded or waived before age 18 without both her and her parent/legal guardian's consent and may not be selected in expansion drafts.

“We are very happy that Melanie and her family have decided to entrust her hometown club as the place for her to begin her professional career,” Wave coach Casey Stoney said in a news release. “The coaches at San Diego Surf have been instrumental in helping her develop as a person and as a player for her entire youth career. We’re excited to maximize her potential through the coming years.”

Barcenas’ contract with San Diego Wave will run through the 2025 season. The club begins the 2023 campaign with a home game against the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday night.

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