By DARRELL LOVELL
D.C. United has added to their young attacking core, announcing the signing of Brazilian forward Rafael Wednesday morning. The 20-year-old striker will join the club on a one-year loan from Brazilian top flight side Bahia as a designated player, the youngest DP currently on the books in MLS.
“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 in a club release. “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.”
Rafael comes with some impressive youth credentials, having represented the Brazilian U-20 team, as recently as Pan-American Games, and has shown a knack for scoring goals at that level. He joins an already potent D.C. attack that is looking to take the next step after making a run to the Eastern Conference Championship series where they were bounced by eventual MLS runners-up Houston Dynamo.
With the likes of Chris Pontius, the returning Dwayne De Rosario and sophomore-to-be Nick DeLeon already in the squad, the 6-foot striker will not be asked to carry the load, but will have the chance to show he can be a consistent goal scorer to supplement their attack.
The best news of the deal could be the use of the young DP rules put into place by MLS that minimize the cap hit for players under 23 years of age. According to MLS guidelines, the cap hit for players age 21 is $200,000, which will be the case since the player’s birthday is in July.
Will Rafael be able to bring more youthful attacking prowess to a team already with star young attackers Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon? Can a 20-year-old catch on quick enough to make a difference in a year? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.