Real Salt Lake signs youngest soccer player in MLS history

HERRIMAN, Utah — Real Salt Lake (RSL) announced yesterday the signing of forward Axel Kei from the RSL Academy. At 14 years and 15 days, he is the youngest to ever sign with a team in Major League Soccer, surpassing an 18-year record held by Freddy Adu by 153 days. 

In 2021, Kei (pronounced KAY) captured the sporting world’s attention when he entered as a substitute during a Real Monarchs match. Just 13 years, eight months, and nine days at the match, he made history as the youngest professional athlete in American team sports history. By comparison, no one younger than 15 has ever appeared in a match with one of Europe’s Big-Five Leagues, including the Bundesliga, La Liga, Ligue 1, the Premier League, and Serie A.

Born in the Ivory Coast, Kei was raised in Brazil, where his father played professionally before his family relocated to San Diego, California, in 2017.

At the conclusion of the recent MLS Next Cup Championships, Kei was awarded the Golden Boot for the most goals scored at the U15 level during the tournament.

“Over the last year, Axel has proven to be one of the top attacking prospects in the country. 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,” Real Salt Lake General Manager Elliot Fall said in a statement.

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