D.C. United has made the first Designated Player signing of the 2013 MLS offseason, inking 20-year-old Brazilian Rafael to a one-year loan on Wednesday. As a Youth DP, Rafael will only take up $150,000 of salary cap space this year. If United were to exercise their option to buy, Rafael would count $200,000 against the salary cap for the next three seasons.
"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 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 made 36 first-team appearances for Bahia and scored 10 goals. In Serie-A competition, though, he only played 330 minutes last season and scored just a single goal.
Clearly, United is banking on his upside. Rafael is the second youngest player to sign a DP contract in MLS history, older only than FC Dallas' Fabian Castillo.