Step aside Freddy Adu. Major League Soccer has a new youngest-ever player.
Real Salt Lake signed 14-year-old forward Axel Kei to a homegrown contract on Friday, giving him a two-year deal.
Kei is 14 years, 15 days old. Adu was 153 days older when he signed with D.C. United in 2004 after he was selected first overall in the MLS SuperDraft.
An Ivory Coast native, Kei grew up in Brazil, where his father was a professional soccer player. The family moved to San Diego in 2017.
Kei has been part of the Real Salt Lake academy, leading its under-15 team to a championship in 2021 when he was the tournament's leading scorer.
Kei made history on Oct. 8 when he appeared for the Real Monarchs of a USL Championship, the next tier of soccer below MLS in the United States. He was 13 years, 8 months and 9 days old, reportedly making him the youngest athlete to play for a pro sports team in the United States.
"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."
Adu was hailed as a future superstar when he made his MLS debut, but he wound up with just 11 goals in 87 games for D.C. United. He wound up playing for teams around the world but never achieved anything approaching the success that was predicted.
--Field Level Media