It was the 72nd minute of the match against Orlando Pride at Snapdragon Stadium on April 29th when 15-year-old midfielder Melanie Barcenas came on to replace her teammate Isabella Briede, becoming the youngest player in NWSL history.
San Diego Wave FC announced that they had signed Barcenas, a Clairemont native, on March 21st to a three year contract, which also made her the youngest player to sign a contract with an NWSL team.
"We wouldn't have signed her if we didn't believe in her at this age," said San Diego Wave head coach Casey Stoney. "She's creative. She has exceptional talent, but obviously she's only fifteen, so we need to take care of her."
Barcenas became the first high school player to sign a name, image, and likeness (NIL) contract with Nike on January 1, 2022. She has already been called up to the U-14, U-15, and U-16 national teams for training camps and was recently called up to the U-17 women's national youth team for matches against England, where she was the youngest player on the roster.
"She still has a lot of lessons to learn," Stoney added. "I think she'll be a player who will make people get out of their seats, and a player people will want to come and watch. So it's an exciting future for her."
Barcenas came on to the pitch against Orlando when San Diego Wave were down 3-1, which turned out to be the final score, but she received a great ovation from the home crowd. Regardless, San Diego Wave fans hope this will be the first of many appearances for the young star.