D.C. United on Wednesday announced that the club has signed Brazilian striker Rafael as a young Designated Player on loan for one year, giving head coach Ben Olsen more firepower to get his team back to the postseason after reaching the Eastern Conference Championship last season.
Rafael, 20, joins D.C. from Bahia of the Brazilian Serie A, where he has made 36 first-team appearances and has scored 10 goals. Per club and league policy, the terms of the deal were not disclosed. Rafael will be available for selection pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and visa.
“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,” D.C. United general manager Dave Kasper said in a statement. “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 preseason 2013.”
Rafael has represented his native country of Brazil at very high levels, including most recently at the 2011 Pan-American games. The young striker is now the youngest current Designated Player in MLS and the second-youngest Designated Player signing in League history (Fabián Castillo was 18 when he signed with FC Dallas).
Rafael will join D.C. United and fellow Brazilians Marcelo Saragosa and Raphael Augusto for preseason training when players report on Jan. 17.