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ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2023) — Orlando City SC has acquired 24-year-old defender Rafael Lucas Cardoso dos Santos, known as Rafael Santos, from Cruzeiro of Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, it was announced today. Rafael Santos will join the Lions on a two-year contract through 2024, with Club options in 2025 and 2026, pending the receipt of his P-1 Visa, ITC and medical evaluation. 

“Rafael is a technically gifted left back, has great touch on the ball, and creates danger in the attacking third with his crossing and set piece abilities,” said EVP of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi. “He brings experience from the first division in Brazil and is someone we expect to provide competition in that position within our team.”

A product of Mirassol’s youth academy system, Rafael Santos originally joined Cruzeiro’s U20 side on loan from his youth club before being transferred to the senior side in January 2019. The Londrina, Brazil, native has spent time developing on loan with Brazilian clubs Internacional, Chapecoense, Ponte Preta and Coritiba.

The 24-year-old left back has made 92 appearances across all competitions in his professional career, scoring five goals and providing eight assists during that time, including appearances in Brazil’s Série A and Copa do Brasil. Santos won the Campeonato Brasileiro Série B with Chapecoense in the 2019-2020 season during his time on loan with the Chapecó-based club.

TRANSACTION: Orlando City SC acquires 24-year-old defender Rafael Santos from Cruzeiro, pending the receipt of his P-1 Visa and ITC, on a two-year contract through 2024, with Club options in 2025 and 2026.

Name: Rafael Santos (hah-fah-EL SAHN-tows)

Position: Defender

Height: 5-11

Born: Feb. 5, 1998 in Londrina, Brazil

Hometown: Londrina, Brazil

Citizenship: Brazil