Real Salt Lake signs a 14-year MLS deal

Real Salt Lake wrote Major League Soccer history on 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 will be with the club through the 2023 season. Kei’s deal makes him the youngest player to ever sign for MLS, breaking Freddy Adu’s trademark.

Kei is 153 days younger than Adu was. Adu was 14 years and 168 days old when he joined MLS in 2004.

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Jerry Naylor of Salt Lake City wears a mask while waving a flag in the stands before a match between Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders at the Rio Tinto Stadium on September 2, 2020 in Sandy, Utah.

Jerry Naylor of Salt Lake City wears a mask while waving a flag in the stands before a match between Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders at the Rio Tinto Stadium on September 2, 2020 in Sandy, Utah.
(Chris Gardner / Getty Images)

“Over the past year, Axel has proven to be one of the best attacking opportunities in the country,” Real Salt Lakes general manager Elliot Fall said in a announcement. “His propensity for goals is far beyond his years, and along with his elite athletics, he expects to be a goal-scoring force in our league in the years to come.”

A flag is waving during a match between Real Salt Lake and DC United on September 1, 2012 at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

A flag is waving during a match between Real Salt Lake and DC United on September 1, 2012 at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
(George Frey / Getty Images)

Kei had five goals in five games to help the Real Salt Lake U-15 team win the MLS NEXT Pro Championship in 2021. He originally debuted with the Real Monarchs at 13, 8 months and 9 days old, making him the youngest pro athlete in American team sports history according to MLS Soccer.

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Kei was born in Ivory Coast and grew up in Brazil, where his father played at the time. He moved to San Diego in 2017 and played for the LA Galaxy’s San Diego Youth Soccer Club before joining the Real Salt Lakes organization.

Real Salt Lake players celebrate after a win over Sporting Kansas City in the semifinals of the 2021 MLS Finals Conference at Children's Mercy Park in November 2021.

Real Salt Lake players celebrate after a win over Sporting Kansas City in the semifinals of the 2021 MLS Finals Conference at Children’s Mercy Park in November 2021.
(Denny Medley / USA TODAY Sports)

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Real Salt Lake finished in seventh place in the Western Conference last season with a record of 14-14-6. The club lost to the Portland Timbers in the finals of the MLS Cup conference.

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