Judge cracks open NSWL door to 15-year-old phenom Olivia Moultrie

Olivia Moultrie
Olivia Moultrie
Photo: Getty Images

Interesting decision out of Portland. We talked about Olivia Moultrie’s case against the NWSL as she seeks to play professionally at 15 years old for Portland Thorns FC. The NWSL has an age minimum of 18, but that wasn’t collectively bargained, just something the league installed. Considering MLS allows teenagers to play, as do leagues all over the world, it felt like Moutrie had a case.

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Judge Karen Immegurt agreed, issuing a temporary restraining order allowing Moultrie to sign a pro contract with the team. While the initial order is only for two weeks, it’ll likely continue for longer while the sides haggle and head to more legal proceedings, and CBA negotiations continue between the league and players. Basically the judge is providing space for both sides to decide what they want to do about age minimums in their agreement, whenever that comes.

There seems to be little doubt Moultrie is worthy of a turn with Portland, as she’s played in exhibition games with them and been training with them for a while. She is the next big thing in the sport, and it’s hard to see why NWSL wouldn’t want to make the most of it. Sure, there’s always the worry of burnout for such a young player, aka The Freddy Adu Phenomenon.

Or maybe it’s protecting the jobs of older players, who could feel a squeeze if more teams want to opt for cheaper, younger players. That’s a tale familiar to all athletes in team sports. It’s worth keeping an eye on in those CBA negotiations, if things go that way. NWSL players wouldn’t be the first to screw over younger players to benefit the older ones.

As they like to say in soccer, “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.” Sounds like we’ll get to see if Moultrie is.

We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.