COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids have a new director of player personnel, the club announced Tuesday.

Ena Patel was hired to oversee player contracts, salary budget, regulatory compliance and soccer operations protocols under Pádraig Smith, the Rapids said.

"Ena's hiring is the final piece of the puzzle for us on the front office side," Smith, the Rapids executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement released by the club. "Bringing in a sharp, legal mind who can oversee our contractual processes and complex league mechanisms is a really important part of ensuring that we're fielding the best possible team. We can't wait for her to get started."

Previously, Patel was based in the San Francisco Bay area where she worked on international tax planning, corporate reorganizations and restructurings at DLA Piper LLP and Baker McKenzie, the club said.

Patel, who earned a masters in laws in taxation from Northwestern University, is now the highest-ranking female executive in a technical role in MLS. Sporting Kansas City recently hired Meghan Cameron in a similar but slightly less senior role than Patel's.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for me both personally and professionally," Patel said in statement released by the club. "I've been interested in making the jump to professional sports for some time and very much appreciate the support shown by everyone — including my friends, family and former employers. The opportunity to be a part of a club with an ambitious vision for the future is very exciting, and I can't wait to get started. It's easy to see that this is a club with a very bright future."