PLAYER PROFILE: Rafael Mentzingen

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Rafael Mentzingen
Mentzingen with Detroit in 2018
Personal information
Full name Rafael Duizit Mentzingen[1]
Date of birth (1996-05-02) 2 May 1996 (age 27)
Place of birth Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[2]
Position(s) Midfielder, Forward
Team information
Current team
North Carolina FC
Number 14
Youth career
2007–2011 Volta Redonda
2011–2014 Resende
2014–2015 Vasco da Gama
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2015–2016 Bryan Lions 35 (22)
2017–2018 Valparaiso Crusaders 34 (11)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2016 Southern West Virginia King's Warriors 0 (0)
2017 Lansing United 9 (9)
2018 Detroit City 6 (3)
2019 Lansing Ignite 21 (6)
2020 Memphis 901 13 (3)
2021–2022 Chattanooga Red Wolves 45 (7)
2023– North Carolina FC 0 (0)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of 29 December 2022

Rafael Duizit Mentzingen (born 2 May 1996) is a Brazilian footballer who plays as a midfielder or forward for USL League One club North Carolina FC. He previously appeared at the semi-professional level for Southern West Virginia King's Warriors, Lansing United, and Detroit City and as a professional with Lansing Ignite, Memphis 901, and Chattanooga Red Wolves.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Mentzingen came to the United States to play collegiate soccer at Bryan College. He spent two years with the Lions before transferring and playing his final two years of eligibility at Valparaiso. Mentzingen was selected in the fourth round of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, but instead signed for USL League One club Lansing Ignite, with who he made his professional debut in 2019. The club folded after just one year of existence, with Mentzingen moving on to join Memphis 901 for the 2020 season.

Early life

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mentzingen grew up in the municipality of Resende.[3] He began playing futsal at the age of four, switching to football when he was 11.[4] He began his career in the youth teams of Volta Redonda, later representing Resende and Vasco da Gama as a teenager.[5][6] Mentzingen came to the United States at the age of 19 through an agency that matched colleges to foreign footballers. At the time, he spoke only Portuguese, but learned English within three months of his arrival in America.[4]

College and amateur

Mentzingen came to the United States in 2015 to play college soccer, joining the team at NAIA school Bryan College. He made his collegiate debut on 26 August, scoring in a 9–0 victory over Hiwassee.[7] After scoring four goals in a two-match stretch in mid-October, Mentzingen was named as the Appalachian Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week.[8] He finished the season with 11 goals in 17 appearances, was named as the AAC Freshman of the Year, and was placed on the All-AAC First Team.[9] He continued to star as a sophomore, tallying three goals in the first two games of the 2016 season – the second of which was a bicycle kick in a 3–0 victory over Cumberlands.[10] He earned his second career AAC Offensive Player of the Week nod at the end of October, capping a week where he scored four goals in two games against Montreat and Tennessee Wesleyan.[11] Mentzingen finished the season with 11 goals in 18 appearances; he earned a second-consecutive All-AAC First Team nod,[12] was on the AAC All-Tournament Team,[13] and was named as an NAIA Second-Team All-American.[14] He transferred to Valparaiso following the season, finishing his two years at Bryan with 22 goals in 35 appearances.[15]

Mentzingen made his Valparaiso and NCAA Division I debut on 25 August 2017 as the Crusaders fell 2–1 against Northwestern.[16] He scored his first Crusader goal a week later, helping Valpo defeat nationally ranked Loyola in the program's Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) debut.[17] Mentzingen earned national recognition for a goal he scored in the 2017 Missouri Valley Conference Men's Soccer Tournament, although his "mesmerizing goal" came in a 4–2 defeat to Drake.[18] He was named to the All-Missouri Valley First Team after tallying nine goals in 18 appearances on the season.[19] As a senior, Mentzingen's scoring output fell off for the first time in his collegiate career: he tallied just two goals in 16 matches. Those goals came in a three-match span midway through the season, including his final collegiate goal in a 4–1 defeat to Oral Roberts on 1 October.[20] He finished his Crusader career with 11 goals in 34 appearances and earned a second consecutive nod to the All-MVC First Team.[21]

Southern West Virginia King's Warriors

Following his freshman season at Bryan, Mentzingen was on the roster for Premier Development League club Southern West Virginia King's Warriors. He did not make an appearance during the final season of existence for the club.[22]

Lansing United

For the summer of 2017, Mentzingen moved to the National Premier Soccer League and signed for Lansing United.[23] He debuted for the club on 14 May, playing 74 minutes and scoring a goal in a 2–0 victory over Milwaukee Torrent.[24] Mentzingen continued his goal-scoring form through the first half of the season, tallying two goals against F.C. Indiana on 19 May and again versus AFC Ann Arbor on 26 May.[24][25] After scoring a brace in a 4–2 win over Grand Rapids FC on 10 June, he was named as the NPSL national player of the week.[26] His season was ended in late June due to injury, but Mentzingen finished the year with nine goals in nine matches and was honored as the Lansing United player of the year.[27]

Detroit City

Mentzingen scored 12 goals in 17 appearances across three seasons with semi-professional clubs.

Mentzingen moved across the state of Michigan in 2018, joining fellow National Premier Soccer League club Detroit City for the summer season.[28] After appearing for the club in preseason, he made his competitive debut for Le Rouge in the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open Cup, starting and playing 113 minutes as Detroit knocked out Michigan Bucks on penalties.[29] Mentzingen scored his first goals for the club on 27 May, bagging two goals and providing an assist after entering as a second-half substitute in an 11–0 victory over F.C. Indiana.[30] He added another goal five days later, this time helping Detroit defeat F.C. Indiana by a scoreline of 8–0.[31] Mentzingen played sporadically throughout the remainder of the season, finishing with three goals in eight total appearances.

Club career

Although he had already signed a contract with Lansing Ignite, Mentzingen was drafted 90th overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft by Columbus Crew SC, who retained his Major League Soccer rights through the end of the 2020 season.[32] He had previously trained with the club in 2018, but he and the Crew determined that he "needed more experience at the professional level" before joining Columbus. The sides agreed that Mentzingen would sign with Lansing for the 2019 USL League One season and join the Crew for preseason in 2020 to battle for a roster spot.[33]

Lansing Ignite

On 14 December 2018, Mentzingen signed for USL League One expansion club Lansing Ignite. He became the third signing in club history, inking a one-year contract.[34] Mentzingen made his club and professional debut on 30 March 2019, entering as a second-half substitute against Richmond Kickers.[35] His first professional goal came less than two months later, on 18 May in a home fixture against North Texas SC. The 54th-minute strike helped the Ignite earn a 2–2 draw against the eventual league champions.[36] In July, Mentzingen was named as the League One Player of the Month as the Ignite went unbeaten in six matches. He scored two goals and provided three assists, including a stoppage time tally as part of a 3–2 victory over Forward Madison on 9 July.[37] Mentzingen finished the season with six goals and a team-high seven assists from 24 appearances in all competitions. He was one of three Ignite players named to the League One All-League Second Team for their efforts.[38] Nine days after Lansing was eliminated from the playoffs, the club folded due to financial difficulties; Mentzingen was therefore released from his contract and became a free agent.[39]

Memphis 901

After the Ignite folded, Mentzingen joined USL Championship club Memphis 901 on 15 January 2020.[40] He made his debut for the club on 7 March, playing 16 minutes off the bench in a 4–2 defeat against Indy Eleven.[41] Although that marked Mentzingen's only appearance before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he kept his place in the team after the season was resumed, finishing the year with three goals and one assist from 13 appearances.[42] The first of those goals came on 15 August, albeit in a 3–2 defeat against Charlotte Independence.[43] Mentzingen missed the last two games of the season after being declared ineligible for a violation of team rules.[44] His contract with Memphis expired at the end of the season, with rumors from his native Brazil stating that he was the subject of interest from Campeonato Brasileiro Série B clubs.[45]

Chattanooga Red Wolves

Mentzingen returned to USL League One for the 2021 season, signing with Chattanooga Red Wolves on 12 February.[46] He missed the first seven games of the season due to an undisclosed injury, eventually making his club debut on 26 June against Greenville Triumph.[47] Mentzingen scored his first goal for the Red Wolves on 14 July against Tormenta FC. After coming on as a substitute, his header in the 87th minute gave Chattanooga a 2–1 victory.[48] Although he played the full 90 minutes in just three matches all season, one of those came in Chattanooga's final game. In the semifinals of the 2021 USL League One Playoffs, he played all 120 minutes as the Red Wolves were eliminated in extra time by Greenville.[49] After finishing the year with one goal from 17 appearances, Mentzingen had his contract option exercised by Chattanooga.[50]

Mentzingen finished 2022 with eight goals and four assists, scoring two of those goals in the League One playoffs.

North Carolina FC

On 29 December 2022, Mentzingen signed with North Carolina FC ahead of the 2023 season.[51]

Personal life

Mentzingen is the oldest of two children to his parents, Dárcio and Adriana. Growing up, he was a supporter of Flamengo and has said that his boyhood dream was to play for the club.[4] Mentzingen graduated from Valparaiso University with a Bachelor of Science in economics.[52] In 2021, he married Megan (née Cross) in Hamilton County, Tennessee.[53]

During his sophomore year at Bryan College, Mentzingen was on the roster of the Lions' men's volleyball team.[54] He appeared as a substitute in two matches on March 25, 2017, playing one set each of a victory over Bluefield and a defeat against Cincinnati Christian.[55][56]

Career statistics

As of 29 December 2022[57]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League Cup[a] Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Southern West Virginia King's Warriors 2016[22] PDL 0 0 0 0
Lansing United 2017[58] NPSL 9 9 9 9
Detroit City 2018 NPSL 6 3 2 0 8 3
Lansing Ignite 2019 USL League One 21 6 2 0 1[b] 0 24 6
Memphis 901 2020 USL Championship 13 3 13 3
Chattanooga Red Wolves 2021 USL League One 15 1 2[b] 0 17 1
2022 30 6 1 0 3[b] 2 34 8
Total 45 7 1 0 0 0 5 2 51 9
North Carolina FC 2023 USL League One 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career total 94 28 5 0 0 0 6 2 105 30
  1. ^ All appearances in the U.S. Open Cup
  2. ^ a b c Appearance(s) in the USL League One playoffs




  1. ^ Rafael Mentzingen at
  2. ^ Rafael Mentzingen at USL League One
  3. ^ "Rafael Mentzingen abre mão do draft da MLS e assina primeiro contrato profissional" [Rafael Mentzingen gives up the MLS draft and signs first professional contract]. Rede Globo (in Portuguese). Globo. 20 December 2018. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Lima, Vinicius (26 September 2017). "Rumo à MLS, brasileiro se divide entre estudos e treinos e sonha jogar no Fla" [Towards MLS, Brazilian divides between studies and training and dreams of playing at Fla]. Rede Globo (in Portuguese). Globo. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  5. ^ Scavuzzo, Diane (20 June 2017). "NPSL Spotlight: Rafael Mentzingen". SoccerToday. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  6. ^ Sapio, Marcello (23 October 2020). "Rafael Mentzingen, do Memphis 901, fala sobre o futebol nos Estados Unidos e destaca: "É bem mais que a MLS"" [Rafael Mentzingen, from Memphis 901, talks about football in the United States and highlights: "It is much more than the MLS"]. Universo Online (in Portuguese). Grupo Folha. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  7. ^ "Lions come away with win in season opener". Bryan College Lions. Bryan College. 26 August 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  8. ^ "AAC announces men's soccer players of the week". Appalachian Athletic Conference. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  9. ^ a b c "Three Lions Named To NSCAA All-East Team". The Chattanoogan. 14 December 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Mentzingen bicycles the Lions to a 3–0 blanking of Cumberlands Patriots". Bryan College Lions. Bryan College. 1 September 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Lee's Lanter is GSC soccer co-player of the year and more regional sports news". Chattanooga Times Free Press. WEHCO Media. 1 November 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Around the Region: Dunstan, Spooner, Broderick earn AAC soccer honors". Chattanooga Times Free Press. WEHCO Media. 10 November 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Bryan Men Fall To Union In Overtime". The Chattanoogan. 12 November 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Three Bryan Lions Named All-Americans". The Chattanoogan. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Rafael Mentzingen – Bryan profile". Bryan College Lions. Bryan College. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  16. ^ "Crusaders Fall in Overtime in Season Opener". Valparaiso Crusaders. Valparaiso University. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  17. ^ "NWIU Notes: Purdue Northwest athletics on display Saturday". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Lee Enterprises. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  18. ^ Joseph, Andrew (7 November 2017). "College soccer player utterly embarrasses defenders to score a must-see goal". USA Today. Gannett. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  19. ^ a b Davis, Ryan (9 November 2017). "2017 MVC Men's Soccer All-Conference Teams Announced" (PDF) (Press release). St. Louis: Missouri Valley Conference. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  20. ^ "Mentzingen Tallies Goal in Men's Soccer Setback to Oral Roberts". Valparaiso Crusaders. Valparaiso University. 1 October 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Five Men's Soccer Players Receive All-Conference Recognition". Valparaiso Crusaders. Valparaiso University. 8 November 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Rafael Mentzingen – Southern West Virginia King's Warriors profile". Premier Development League. United Soccer League. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Rafa Mentzingen: Lansing United's Newest Midfield Maestro". WLNS-TV. Nexstar Media Group. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  24. ^ a b Edwards III, James (20 May 2017). "Crafty Brazilian Rafa Mentzingen paces Lansing United on record-setting night". Lansing State Journal. Gannett. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  25. ^ Lansing United 2–0 AFC Ann Arbor highlights (YouTube video). Lansing United. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  26. ^ Edwards III, James (14 June 2017). "Lansing United midfielder named national player of the week". Lansing State Journal. Gannett. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  27. ^ a b Barnowski, Nick (18 July 2017). "Lansing United names 2017 season award winners". Lansing United. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  28. ^ "2018 Detroit City FC roster takes shape". Detroit City FC. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  29. ^ Sharpe, Fletcher (10 May 2018). "2018 US Open Cup round 1: Detroit City ousts Michigan Bucks in PKs for second year in a row". Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  30. ^ O'Connor, Larry (27 May 2018). "Detroit City FC routs FC Indiana 11–0 on the road". The Detroit News. Digital First Media. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  31. ^ O'Connor, Larry (1 June 2018). "Detroit City FC opens floodgates in 8-0 home victory over FC Indiana". The Detroit News. Digital First Media. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  32. ^ Torres, Guilherme (14 January 2019). "Crew adds Donawa, Mentzingen to conclude MLS SuperDraft". Massive Report. SB Nation. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  33. ^ Torres, Guilherme (16 January 2019). "Year of development: Crew fourth-round pick plans to join team in 2020". Massive Report. SB Nation. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  34. ^ Buddy, Kellan (14 December 2018). "Lansing Ignite signs Rafa Mentzingen". WILX-TV. Gray Television. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  35. ^ Friend, Phil (30 March 2019). "Lansing Ignite wins inaugural match, 3–2, over Richmond Kickers in USL League One". Lansing State Journal. Gannett. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  36. ^ Friend, Phil (18 May 2019). "Lansing Ignite's 2–2 draw 'feels like a loss' after North Texas scores two late goals". Lansing State Journal. Gannett. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  37. ^ Valparaiso University (8 August 2019). "Mentzingen named USL League One Player of the Month". NWI.Life. Ideas in Motion Media. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  38. ^ a b "2019 USL League One All-League Teams Revealed". Sportskeeda. Absolute Sports Pvt. Ltd. 21 October 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  39. ^ Friend, Phil (21 October 2019). "Lansing Ignite owner Tom Dickson on team folding: 'We really thought it would do better'". Lansing State Journal. Gannett. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  40. ^ Varlas, John (15 January 2020). "901 FC adds Brazilian attacking option Rafael Mentzingen". The Daily Memphian. Memphis Fourth Estate, Inc. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  41. ^ Kennedy, Corinne (7 March 2020). "Memphis 901 FC falls 4–2 in first match of the season. Here are the big takeaways". The Commercial Appeal. Gannett. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  42. ^ Fernandes, Arthur (25 September 2020). "Rafael Mentzingen comments on poor performance of Memphis 901 and says who's the favorite for the USL Championship title". Vavel. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  43. ^ Kennedy, Corinne (15 August 2020). "Memphis 901 FC gives away early lead, falls 3–2 against Charlotte Independence". The Commercial Appeal. Gannett. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  44. ^ Kennedy, Corinne (26 September 2020). "Memphis 901 FC beats Charlotte Independence 3–1, first win under Ben Pirmann". The Commercial Appeal. Gannett. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
    @Memphis901FC (26 September 2020). "We will be playing tonight's match with just three substitutions on the bench" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  45. ^ "Brasileiro se destaca nos Estados Unidos e sonha com Europa" [Brazilian stands out in the United States and dreams of Europe]. A Gazeta (in Portuguese). Rede Gazeta de Comunicações. 14 November 2020. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  46. ^ "Chattanooga signs former USL Championship forward Rafa Mentzingen". Chattanooga Red Wolves. United Soccer League. 12 February 2021. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  47. ^ Chattanooga Red Wolves [@ChattRedWolves] (25 June 2021). "For the first time this season, @rafaduizit will be featured on tomorrow's 18-man roster. Welcome back Rafa 🙌 #DaleRafa #DaleLobos" (Tweet). Retrieved 25 December 2021 – via Twitter.
    "Chattanooga Red Wolves 1–1 Greenville Triumph". USL League One. 26 June 2021. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  48. ^ Nyman, Rick (14 July 2021). "Red Wolves Beat Tormenta 2–1 to Move Into First Place Tie". WDEF-TV. Morris Multimedia. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  49. ^ Morris, Julia (13 November 2021). "Greenville defeats Chattanooga, 2–0, to advance to USL League One Final". WYFF. Hearst Television. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  50. ^ Latapi, Carlos (14 December 2021). "Chattanooga Red Wolves exercise option on Rafa Mentzingen" (Press release). Chattanooga, Tennessee: Chattanooga Red Wolves SC. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  51. ^ ncfccomms (29 December 2022). "North Carolina FC Signs Veteran Forward Rafa Mentzingen" (Press release). Cary, North Carolina: North Carolina FC. Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  52. ^ "Valparaiso University international alumni stories – Rafael Mentzingen". Valparaiso University. Retrieved 24 December 2021.
  53. ^ "New Hamilton County Marriage Licenses". The Chattanoogan. 24 May 2021. Retrieved 24 December 2021.
  54. ^ "Rafael Mentzingen – Bryan volleyball profile". Bryan College Lions. Bryan College. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  55. ^ "Bryan 3–0 Bluefield". Bryan College Lions. Bryan College. 25 March 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  56. ^ "Bryan 1–3 Cincinnati Christian". Bryan College Lions. Bryan College. 25 March 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  57. ^ Rafael Mentzingen at Soccerway. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  58. ^ "Lansing United 2017 match reports". National Premier Soccer League. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  59. ^ "Bryan men's soccer clinches AAC Championship". The Herald-News. Adams Publishing Group. 29 October 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  60. ^ a b "Rafael Mentzingen – Valparaiso profile". Valparaiso Crusaders. Valparaiso University. Retrieved 30 March 2019.

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