January 19, 2024, by Kayleigh Tony | Courtesy of www.girlssoccernetwork.com
There is a ton of talent coming up in the game of women’s soccer. In the NWSL, the days of having to go to college are over, with teenagers signing with teams to begin their professional careers. It’s an exciting time in the game of women’s soccer, and we take a look at ten top young players to watch in 2024.
Gisele Thompson is the younger sister of Alyssa Thompson, and at just 17, she signed a professional contract with Angel City FC. When COVID-19 hit, she and her sister joined the Santa Clarita Blue Heat in the United Women’s Soccer League. In 2023, she began training with Angel City, where she would train for most of the year before eventually signing with the team.
The young defender could play a big part in this Angel City team trying to build on their fifth-place finish last season.
In October, at just 15 years old, Pfeiffer signed a contract with the Kansas City Current. She’s originally from St. Louis, where she played club soccer for St. Louis Scott Gallagher in the ECNL. In 2023, she led her club team to a second straight national title and was named the ECNL U17 Player of the Year.
She’s represented the USWNT at the youth level with the U15, U16, and U17 squads. Pfeiffer will be looking to have an impact on the Current team that struggled during the 2023 season.
Barcenas made an impact on the San Diego Wave early on. Before joining the Wave, she played club soccer with the San Diego Surf in the ECNL. She also represented the United States at the U14, U15, U16, and U17 levels.
At just 15, she became the youngest player to sign a contract in the NWSL when she signed with the Wave. She appeared in seven regular season games, tallying one assist. The Wave will be looking to continue to grow Barcenas’ minutes during the 2024 season.
Ricketts is another exciting young player who signed a professional contract in the NWSL. After training with the Washington Spirit for about two months, she officially joined the Spirit in March of 2023. She appeared in 11 matches for the Spirit, and at 16 against NJ/NY Gotham FC in the Challenge Cup, she became the youngest player to score a goal in the NWSL.
She is a fun player to watch, and the combination of Ricketts, Trinity Rodman, and Ashley Sanchez should be an exciting trio in 2024.
Thompson made history by becoming the first high school player to be selected in the NWSL Draft, and she was the first overall pick. She had a good year for Angel City that she’ll be looking to build on when the NWSL season starts back up in just a couple of months. 2023 was a big year for Thompson because not only did she begin her professional career, but she also earned her first cap with the USWNT and was part of the 2023 Women’s World Cup roster.
During the 2023 season, she appeared in 21 games for Angel City, scoring four goals and registering two assists. She’s poised for a big year in 2024.
Bethune was the third overall pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft. She’s a native of Alpharetta, Georgia, but she began her college career with USC. In three seasons with USC, she appeared in 48 games, scored 26 goals, and tallied 23 assists. She was named First Team All-Pac 12 all three years she was a Trojan, and in 2021, she was a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist.
Bethune transferred to Georgia for her final season of college soccer in 2023. She appeared in 15 matches at Georgia, scoring four goals and tallying five assists. Bethune is a terrific midfielder who should make an instant impact for the Washington Spirit.
After just two seasons at North Carolina, Sentor decided to begin her professional career. She entered the NWSL Draft and was the first overall pick by the Utah Royals. As a Tar Heel, she appeared in 48 games, scored 21 goals, and tallied nine assists.
She’s represented the USWNT at the youth level with the U15, U17, and U18 and was the captain of the U20 team.
Paralluelo is just 20 years old, but she joined FC Barcelona in 2022, and through 26 appearances, she’s scored 18 goals. After representing the Spanish Women’s National Team at the youth level, she was named to Spain’s 2023 Women’s World Cup team. She scored in both the quarterfinal and semifinal matchups at the World Cup, helping lead Spain to their first-ever Women’s World Cup win. Paralluelo has been great during her young career and will be a big name for Spain for quite some time.
Shaw signed for the San Diego Wave at 17 years old in 2022 and has had an immediate impact on the Wave. For the Wave, she’s made 30 appearances and tallied nine goals. During the 2023 season, she had six goals and three assists. Shaw will no doubt be a key player for the Wave in 2024.
She represented the USWNT at the youth level and was part of the U20 Women’s World Cup team in 2022. She earned her first senior team appearance in October 2023 against Colombia. In just four appearances for the senior team, she’s already scored two goals.
Fowler has bounced around, playing professionally in Australia and France before moving to Manchester City in 2022. The Australian international debuted for Australia’s senior team in 2018 and has been a star since. At just 20 years old, she’s represented Australia at two Women’s World Cups and one Olympics, with a second likely coming this summer.
With the unfortunate injury news around Sam Kerr, Fowler will step into an even bigger role for her country this year.