Raphael Nascimento is a workhorse for Des Moines United FC on and off the field. He is a star on the field and an invaluable coach and member of the organization’s front office.
His soccer journey has literally taken him all over the world.
Nascimento was born in Boston, Massachusetts and spent his childhood in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. That is where he learned the love and passion of soccer in the country that breathes soccer 24 hours a day. At the young age of nine, he was scouted to play for America Mineiro and spent six years at the club before transferring to Clube Atletico Mineiro for one year. He would then return to America Mineiro for two more years.
In 2010 he had the opportunity to be part of Ipatinga Futebol Clube, a team that played in Brazil’s Serie A national division. He decided to move to the United States during the fall of that same year, and his career as a student-athlete took him to Iowa. He spent two seasons at Marshalltown Community College and two seasons at Grand View University.
Nascimento experienced great success at GVU, going to nationals twice and was an integral part of a team that was ranked #1 nationally.
After graduating in 2015, Nascimento moved to Florida to continue his playing career. He played with Tampa Marauders FC before joining the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2 for the 2016 NPSL season. He also became an accomplished indoor player, starring for the Florida Tropics SC for their 2016/2017 season before playing for Barcelona’s FC Martinenc in the First Catalan Division in 2017. He would focus on playing indoors in 2018, becoming a standout performer with the St Louis Ambush.
He also entered the coaching ranks as an assistant coach at Marshalltown Community College, helping MCC win the ICCAC Conference title and finish fifth at the NJCAA-1 National Tournament. He would then return to Florida to play indoors for the Orlando Seawolves.
In 2021, Nascimento joined Des Moines United FC as a player/coach, helping the team win a conference title and finish as a top 16 team. In 2023, he led Des Moines United FC to an NPSL Gateway Conference title as a player.
Now he faces his biggest challenge yet, leading his team against the best teams in the NPSL’s Midwest Region.
“The level of competition in the Midwest Region is going to be intense and challenging,” Nascimento said. “Teams like Tulsa Athletic, Steel City FC, and Med City FC are strong opponents, and we expect tough battles on the field. However, we’re confident in our abilities and will work hard to compete at the highest level.”
Thankfully Nascimento has a talented squad and a raucous home crowd backing him up this weekend in the league’s Midwest Region Tournament.
“Hosting the NPSL Midwest Region Tournament is a tremendous honor for us and the team,” Nascimento concluded. “It’s a chance to showcase our skills and dedication to our home fans, and we’re determined to give our best performance on our turf.”
Nascimento and Des Moines United FC (8-1-1) will face the Heartland Conference’s Tulsa Athletic (7-1-2) on Friday, July 21 at 7:00 pm, while the Great Lakes Conference’s Steel City FC (10-0-2) will play the North Conference’s Med City FC (6-2-4) in Friday’s 4:00 pm matchup.
Photo Credit: Doug Wells