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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“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.”
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.
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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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