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Rapids signing of Alves da Silva shows Pádraig Smith’s plan is working to the Max

The 20-year-old midfielder joins Colorado’s talented midfield for just shy of a $1 million transfer fee

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Signing a 20-year-old Brazilian nobody in Colorado has heard of may not excite on the surface, but looking deeper, the Rapids just made a splash indicative of a healthy plan which has already proved successful.

The Rapids announced the signing of midfielder Max Alves da Silva on Thursday. According to a league source, the transfer fee to Flamengo will be $750,000, with an additional $250,000 set to bet sent if specific performance benchmarks are met. Max will join Colorado on a four-year contract with a club option for a fifth, slotting into a U22 Initiative slot. The Brazilian side will keep 20% of the player’s future transfer fees.

“Max is an athletic, technical midfielder who at his young age already has experience playing for one of the biggest clubs in South America,” said Pádraig Smith, Colorado Rapids Executive VP & General Manager, in a news release. “We’re excited to add a player of his quality and potential to our group heading into next season.”

Max joins the Rapids from Brazil’s Serie A, featuring ten times for the Rio de Janeiro side Flamengo, including two appearances in the Copa do Brasil and two in the 2021 Campeonato Carioca, since making his professional debut with the club earlier in 2021. In September, the 20-year-old was loaned to fellow Serie A club Cuiabá and registered 15 appearances and recorded one goal for the recently promoted side.

While the numbers on the contract pop out more than his stats, it’s an indicator of how the Rapids feel about the young attacking midfielder. Colorado’s scouts raved about Max’s technical abilities and his athleticism. Scouts pinpointed that Max could be “goal dangerous,” citing a “wicked left foot,” power in his boot to strike from distance and hard work near the net mouth. That same source did warn it may take some time for Max’s full impacts to be felt, given he’s a 20-year-old changing countries and playing in a new league.

Looking across the Rapids roster makes their construction clear, a team with veterans across the field but with young talent nearly everywhere pushing for playing time. The midfield alone will feature veterans Jack Price, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Kellyn Acosta while young players like Max, Cole Bassett and Darren Yapi fight for spots.

This is part of Smith’s plan that was put in motion a few years ago. A revolving group of young players that garner interest from other clubs while league experience players help the club win now. After Sam Vines was sold this past summer and the Rapids placed No. 1 in the west in the 2021 regular season, the ideas are bearing tangible fruit. Allowing Rapids brass to invest deeper into their model.

Some say the Max signing signals the exit of one or more midfielders, but that might not be the case. The Rapids will need an extremely deep roster to compete in Concacaf Champions League, MLS Regular Season play, U.S. Open Cup and MLS Postseason play. All the while a World Cup and other international events will pull talented Rapids players away from Commerce City.

A league source indicted Bassett is receiving a large amount of interest from Europe but that the club will only make a move if it is the right one. Surprisingly, the source also detailed that USMNT staple Acosta is highly likely to stay with the club and will not be transferred anytime soon.

The Rapids are working on bringing back a few players from last year, finalizing a one-year deal with Steven Beitashour on Friday. The club has also indicated that they’re targeting a striker. With the 10th pick in the MLS Draft next week as well, Colorado is likely not done this offseason and could have more players coming and going.