Real Salt Lake's Axel Kei becomes youngest player to sign with MLS club

(Phil Noble/ Pool via AP)

HERRIMAN, Utah — Real Salt Lake has signed 14-year-old forward Axel Kei, the youngest player ever to sign with a Major League Soccer senior team.

Kei, a lanky 6-foot-4 product of the RSL Academy, inked a two-year deal at 14 years and 15 days, the club announced Friday.

"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.

Previously, the youngest player to sign with an MLS club was Freddy Adu, who was 153 days older than Kei when he joined D.C. United in 2004.

Kei, an Ivory Coast native who grew up in Brazil before his family relocated to the United States in 2017, became the youngest-ever professional athlete for a U.S. team when he played for the lower-division Real Monarchs last year at 13 years, 8 months and 9 days old.

Kei was also a part of the RSL Academy's under-15 team that won that level's MLS Next Cup Championship last summer. He won the tournament's Golden Boot with five goals in five games.

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