Colorado Rapids make potential record-breaking signing

Jul 10, 2023, 12:33 PM

The Colorado Rapids have made a big move to bolster their attack, adding 23-year-old Brazilian forward Rafael Navarro as a Designated Player (DP.)

The Major League Soccer DP rule allows teams to extend past their salary cap to sign up to three players, Navarro will fit that bill and could cost the Rapids over $5 million if they exercise the option to purchase him after an initial 12-month loan.

Navarro comes from defending Brazilian Serie A champions Palmeiras

joins the Rapids on loan from defending Brazilian champions Palmeiras

“We’re thrilled to add a striker of Rafael’s quality to our roster as we continue our push to get back into the playoff race,” said Colorado Rapids President Pádraig Smith in a news release. “Rafael is a talented and tenacious player who will bring a goalscoring threat and experience at the highest levels in South America to the club. We believe he can immediately improve our attacking core and look forward to welcoming him to Colorado.”

Navarro is coming from the most successful club team in the history of Brazil’s Serie A, the country’s top-flight division. Since debuting with the São Paolo-based side in 2022, Navarro has made 65 appearances for Palmeiras, scoring 11 goals and providing four assists across all competitions—including eight goals and two assists across 13 Copa Libertadores appearances—en route to helping Palmeiras earn the 2022 league title, as well as the 2022 Recopa Sudamericana.

The Rapids have lacked a true striker for years when they dumped Kei Kamara and opted to go with Diego Rubio. While Rubio has succeeded in his role, they’ve still lacked offensive punch and the Rapids are currently last in the league with 16 goals.

Colorado may have turned some of that around over the weekend. The club hadn’t scored since May but broke out for two goals in a win against Portland, where newly acquired defender Andrew Gutman debuted.

Navarro is a native of Cabo Frio in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He began his professional career with Botafogo in 2020 the club was relegated to Serie B at the end of the 2020 season. Navarro helped power Botafogo back to the top flight the following year, scoring 15 goals—the third-highest tally in the league that year—and registering nine assists as the club won the Serie B league title and earned promotion to Serie A. In all, Navarro logged 18 goals and 10 assists from 63 appearances for Botafogo across all competitions during his time with the club.

The Rapids are last in the west and eight points out of the final playoff spot with about a dozen games to go in the season. If Colorado does buy Navarro at the end of his loan, it will be the largest purchase in club history, passing the price of Shkëlzen Gashi.



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