D.C. United has become the lastest Major League Soccer team to take advantage of the young Designated Player rule, the Eastern Conference finalists having secured 20-year-old Brazilian Rafael on a one-year loan.
The 6’0″, 179 lb. attacker has featured sparingly in for Bahia over the last two years in Brazil’s Serie A. His 13 first division appearances include only four starts and 412 minutes played. In the last game of Bahia’s 2012 season (a meaningless contest), Rafael scored his first career Campeonato goal.
Per United’s announcement, Rafeal becomes the youngest Designated Player currently signed in Major League Soccer and the second-youngest in league history (Fabian Castillo signed with Dallas at 18).
“We are very excited to have reached a deal to bring Rafael to D.C. United on a one-year loan with a view to a permanent transfer,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper. “He is a young, talented player with solid experience with the Brazilian Serie A club Bahia. We believe Rafael has all the qualities to be a successful striker in Major League Soccer, and we look forward to having him join us in pre-season 2013.”
As with most young DPs likely to come into the league, there isn’t much of a track record on Rafael. Though the club web site touts his 36 appearances and 10 goals for Bahia, most of those numbers were accumulated in the Bahia state league, a level far below Brazil’s Campeonato. While Rafael represented his country at the 2011 Pan American games, he wasn’t selected to the country’s U-20 World Cup squad.
Here is Rafael’s only Serie A goal, wherein you can see why Atlético Goianiense is not longer in the Brazilian first division. Fast forward to the last 30 seconds of the clip.