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Why might the Rapids have signed Mike da Fonte

The season already started, but the roster moves aren’t quite done for Colorado, apparently.

MLS: Preseason-San Jose Earthquakes vs Sacramento Republic
Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Republic FC defender Mike da Fonte (3, left) heads the soccer ball against San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

And you thought the Rapids were all done with early-season transfers.

The Colorado Rapids announced the signing of USL defender Mike da Fonte via their website. Da Fonte was signed on a two-year contract, and salary details were not disclosed.

The club expressed excitement for the signing and briefly explained the process that brought Mike to Colorado.

“Mike impressed in our preseason meeting with Sacramento last year and we continued to track his progress. He provides competition and increased depth to our already strong defensive core,” said Rapids Sporting Director Pádraig Smith. “He is a player who we think has the necessary tools to be successful at the next level.”

Da Fonte played in 2016 with the Sacramento Republic in the US second division, after playing previously with New York Red Bull II as well as spending time with two clubs in the Portuguese third division. He played 1658 minutes for Sacramento last year, mostly at center back and right back. He scored four goals and helped lead Sacramento Republic FC to the top of the USL Western Conference. The defense was third-best in USL’s Western Conference with only 27 goals allowed on the season.

I have a couple of theories as to why the Rapids made this signing.

The first option is the simplest. MLS announced an expansion of rosters in late February from 28 to 30. With that expansion, MLS clubs now had the flexibility to add a little depth, and the Rapids likely believed that other MLS clubs were going to snap up the most promising talent from USL. Padraig Smith really did have his eye on Mike da Fonte, and with leftover TAM and an open roster slot, there was motivation to sign a talented defender before someone else got him.

Another option is that the Rapids are planning to make a move in the next few days to trade a defender, and needed to get some depth at the position in order to allow them some roster flexibility. Rapids defenders Mekeil Williams, Dennis Castillo, Bobby Burling, and Kortne Ford are all potential first-team quality players for the Rapids that may bring significant trade or sale value.

A third possibility is that a current Rapids defender is injured and the team needed reinforcements.

UPDATE: I just thought of this other thing:

A fourth reason is that the Rapids are out of international roster spots, and therefore have Dennis Castillo listed as ‘on loan’. That means Colorado has only one true fullback on the roster, and thus needed more depth.

A final possibility is that the Rapids are concerned about Eric Miller’s performance this season, and bringing in a potential replacement for the right back. As we mentioned, Miller put in a pretty poor performance for Colorado on Saturday against the Red Bulls.

Whatever the reason, welcome Mike da Fonte! Rapids fans look forward to seeing you out on the pitch soon.