Real Salt Lake made Major League Soccer history Friday when the club agreed to a first-team contract with 14-year-old Axel Kei.
The teenager signed a two-year deal with Real Salt Lake, and he’ll be with the club through the 2023 season. Kei’s agreement makes him the youngest player to ever sign in MLS, breaking Freddy Adu’s mark.
Kei is 153 days younger than Adu was. Adu was 14 years and 168 days old when he joined MLS in 2004.
“Over the last year, Axel has proven to be one of the top attacking prospects in the country,” Real Salt Lake general manager Elliot Fall said in a statement. “His propensity in front of goal is well beyond his years, and coupled with his elite athleticism, he projects to become a goal-scoring force in our league in the years to come.”
Kei had five goals in five games to help Real Salt Lake’s U-15 team win the MLS NEXT Pro Championship in 2021. He initially debuted with the Real Monarchs at 13 years, 8 months and 9 days old, which made him the youngest pro athlete in American team sports history, according to MLS Soccer.
Kei was born in the Ivory Coast and raised in Brazil, where his father was playing at the time. He moved to San Diego in 2017 and played for the LA Galaxy’s San Diego Youth Soccer Club before joining Real Salt Lake’s organization.
Real Salt Lake finished seventh in the Western Conference last season with a 14-14-6 record. The club lost to the Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup conference finals.