San Diego Wave sign 15-year-old Melanie Barcenas, youngest NWSL player

San Diego Wave have signed 15-year-old forward Melanie Barcenas to a three-year contract, making her the youngest player to sign a professional deal in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), the club announced on Tuesday.

Born in San Diego, Barcenas signed her contract at 15 years and 138 days old. Before joining the Wave, the forward played her youth career with San Diego Surf and spent time in the youth levels of the Unites States women's national team structure.

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"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 head coach Casey Stoney said in a statement.

"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, while being patient and deliberate in advancing her development while ensuring she retains some routine and normalcy of being a teenager."

Due to being a San Diego native and her previous involvement in training with the senior team, the Wave have said that Barcenas is also the first youth homegrown player in the NWSL.

The teenager has joined the Wave through a new under-18 entry mechanism that allows NWSL teams to place eligible underage players, with the consent of the player and a parent/guardian, into senior roster spots.

San Diego will host the Chicago Red Stars at Snapdragon Stadium on March 25 as they kick off their NWSL campaign. The Wave will look to build off their 2022 inaugural season in which they finished third in the regular season table and as semifinalists in the playoffs.