Melanie Barcenas, 15, made her NWSL debut on Saturday night, becoming the youngest player in league history to log game minutes. Barcenas played 19 minutes in San Diego’s 3-1 loss to the Orlando Pride, competing in front of 16,225 fans at Snapdragon Stadium.
“I thought tonight was the night where we needed a little bit more quality on the ball, maybe a bit of creativity. And I felt she brought that,” San Diego head coach Casey Stoney said of her decision to sub Barcenas into the game in the 71st minute.
“She showed tonight what she’s about. I need to go over with her that once you beat the player, deliver the ball. I thought she did that in the box, and then tried to beat her again. So that’s a learning at this level… But it’s fantastic that she’s made her appearance tonight, and I’m really proud of her.”
The NWSL changed its age policy in 2022 and teams are now able to sign U18 players, with restrictions. Barcenas, who signed a three-year contract with San Diego last month, cannot be traded or waived before her 18th birthday without her and her parents’ consent.
Melanie Barcenas making her NWSL debut.The youngest player in NWSL history! pic.twitter.com/Bc6H9lOXzK— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) April 30, 2023
Melanie Barcenas making her NWSL debut.The youngest player in NWSL history! pic.twitter.com/Bc6H9lOXzK