Rafael Alves back with MASL Florida Tropics

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. (July 24, 2020) – Defender Rafael Alves has signed a three-year contract to stay with the
Major Arena Soccer League Eastern Conference champion Florida Tropics, pending visa approval. Per team and league policies, further terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Alves started his Tropics’ career in the team’s inaugural 2016-17 season, but because of injuries, appeared in just nine games in his first two years. Over the past two campaigns, Alves has made 31 appearances.

“Rafa got off to a slow start because of some serious injuries, but in the last two seasons, he has take huge strides forward in adapting his talent to the indoor game,” Coach Clay Roberts said. “He has learned to use his size and skills to his advantage and become an important part of our defensive-first commitment as a team.”

He had a career best three goals and 19 blocked shots in 15 games in 2019-20, when Florida earned the Eastern Conference championship with an 18-3 record before the season was cut short in mid-March due to the Coronavirus outbreak. In 40 career games, he has six goals and three assists to go along with 32 blocks.

Alves joined the arena team after four strong years in the North American Soccer League, and most recently as a defender for Juventude, a second-division (Serie B) club in Brazil which has also played in past years in Serie A, the country's top league.

He appeared in 67 NASL games from 2013-2016, including 35 for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and 32 for the Ottawa Fury. His best offensive season came in 2015 with Ottawa where he had four goals and two assists. He also earned Player of the Week honors that season as the Fury won the NASL fall championship. He also served as captain of the Brazilian Mini-Football team in the 2017 World Cup.

The 2020-21 MASL season will be the fifth for the Tropics at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. The season will kick off in late fall or early winter; for more information visit fltropics.com, or call 863-240-0101.