Orlando Pride sign Brazilian defender Rafaelle Souza

Arsenal's Rafaelle applauds the crowd after a match.
Rafaelle Souza applauds following the FA Women's Super League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The Orlando Pride have officially signed Brazilian international Rafaelle Souza through until the 2025 season. The defender joins the NWSL side after playing for Arsenal for the last two seasons.

Rafaelle will link up with fellow Brazilians Marta and Adriana on the Pride as well as this summer’s 2023 World Cup roster.

“Rafa and I were teammates in Houston and since then, I have watched her grow into one of the best defenders in the world. She is an incredibly intelligent player with the physicality and technical ability to make an immediate impact in our backline,” said Orlando Pride VP of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter. 

“Her leadership, on and off the pitch, also offers a major competitive advantage for the Club. We could not be more thrilled to bring her experience, quality, and infectious, hardworking attitude to Orlando.”

Rafaelle back in the States

Rafaelle played for English powerhouse Arsenal, joining the side in January 2022, before signing with Orlando. Over her time with the Gunners, the Brazilian totalled 35 appearances and four goals. She also helped the club clinch the Continental Cup title in March 2023. During the final, Rafaelle was crucial to Arsenal’s insurance goal, with her aerial prowess causing an own goal for the 3-1 final.

Before England, Rafaelle had a stint in Brazil with Palmeiras and also played with Chinese side Changchun Zhuoyue. Her professional career began in the NWSL in 2014 as part of the Houston Dash, where she made 16 appearances with one assist in the team’s expansion year.  

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“Anyone dreams of living in a city like Orlando and playing in a league as strong as the NWSL. With my experience of having played in other leagues and other countries, for everything I’ve experienced in soccer, I think I can add a lot to the team,” Rafaelle said.

“I dedicate myself a lot and I think fans will see that, my dedication every day and every game. I really hope and want to help the team a lot, be with the girls and join the group and adapt as soon as possible. My main goal now is to help the team qualify for the playoffs. Orlando deserves it for all the investment it has made and for all of their support for women’s soccer.”

You can catch Rafaelle in action at the 2023 Women’s World Cup as Brazil start their campaign against Panama on July 24th at 7.00 EST.

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