DC United part ways with Young Designated Player Rafael, hint at upcoming acquisitions

D.C. United continued their midseason rebuilding on Wednesday with the announcement that Brazilian striker Rafael has left the club by mutual consent.

Signed to a Young Designated Player contract on loan from top-flight Brazilian club Bahia in January, Rafael arrived with some fanfare over the offseason and scored an impressive goal in his MLS debut against Columbus on March 23.

But he found opportunities hard to come by as United's difficult season wore on, playing just 31 minutes over the team's past seven games.

“We thought he would be further along at this point of the season in his adaptation and development,” United general manager Dave Kasper said in a Q&A with dcunited.com. “Additionally, Casey Townsend has come into the picture recently with solid play, and Rafa lost playing time as a result. We did not see this changing.

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“In the end, with a looming decision on a big transfer payment for a player on loan, we felt it would be wiser to look to invest funds toward players elsewhere.”

Rafael made seven league appearances in all this season, four of them starts, logging 331 minutes and notching one goal. His departure frees up resources and roster space for future acquisitions, and Kasper predicted activity on that front in the near future, whether via trades, free-agent signings or international pickups.

“We are looking to add two to three players this summer, and we have salary cap and allocation money to make some moves,” he said.