North Carolina FC has signed Brazilian forward Rafa Mentzingen ahead of the 2023 USL League One season, adding another notable piece to its attacking corps for the new campaign. | Photo courtesy Jim Myers / Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
CARY, N.C. – North Carolina FC announced today it had signed forward Rafael “Rafa” Mentzingen for the 2023 USL League One season. The signing is pending league and federation approval.
The 26-year-old spent the past two seasons with Chattanooga Red Wolves SC, where he made a total of 45 appearances and helped lead the side to the 2022 USL League One Final. Mentzingen joins former Red Wolves teammates Daniel Navarro and DJ Benton as part of NCFC’s squad for the upcoming campaign.
A native of Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian made a team-high 33 appearances for Chattanooga in 2022 and notched eight goals, tied for second on the team, and four assists, ranking him third on the club. In addition to his 12 goal involvements, Mentzingen made 28 key passes, had 32 shots on target and completed 50 percent of his long pass attempts. During Chattanooga’s run to the USL League One Final, Mentzingen scored the game-winning goal in both the Quarterfinals and Semifinals.
“Adding Rafa to our roster at North Carolina FC is a major addition that will certainly help us in our attack and our overall quality,” said NCFC Head Coach John Bradford. “Rafa can play in a few different positions and is dangerous with both feet, which he showed in a great 2022 playoff run with Chattanooga.”
Mentzingen came to the United States to play college soccer for the Bryan College Lions, before transferring to Valparaiso. In two seasons with the Crusaders, he scored 11 goals in 34 appearances and was named All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team both seasons.
He was then selected in the Fourth Round of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft by Columbus Crew SC. Mentzingen spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons with Lansing Ignite FC in League One and Memphis 901 FC in the USL Championship, respectively, before joining Chattanooga prior to the 2021 season. In 2019, Mentzingen was named to the 2019 USL League One All-League Second Team.