D.C. United on Wednesday confirmed the acquisition of striker Rafael on a one-year loan from Brazilian side Esporte Clube Bahia, with the 20-year-old somewhat surprisingly joining the club as a highly priced “designated player” signing.
Rafael’s arrival had been assumed since the player’s parent club announced the move last week, though it was widely thought he would be more of a depth player. But coach Ben Olsen made it clear during a conference call Wednesday that the Brazilian youth international is seen as the club’s top upgrade at striker, noting Rafael will compete with veteran Lionard Pajoy for the starting job and that United “aren’t actively looking for any other No. 9s.”
Rafael scored 10 goals in 36 games in the Brazilian Serie A. As a “young designated player,” he will count just $150,000 or $200,000 against the salary cap instead of the $350,000 charge associated with veteran DPs. United also have an option to buy the player outright at season’s end.