Transfer Tracker

Real Salt Lake make Axel Kei youngest player in MLS history 


Real Salt Lake have signed Axel Kei to a first-team contract, the club announced Friday, making the 14-year-old homegrown forward the youngest player in MLS history.

Kei signs through the 2023 MLS season on a two-year contract.

At 14 years old and 15 days, Kei breaks the record for the league's youngest-ever signing, previously held by Freddy Adu at 14 years and 168 days.

“Over the last year Axel has proven to be one of the top attacking prospects in the country," RSL general manager Elliot Fall said in a release. "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."

Kei has emerged as a standout in RSL's youth academy, starring for their U-15 side that won last year's MLS NEXT Pro championship with five goals in five games and taking home the tournament's Golden Boot. He has since featured primarily for their U-17s, scoring six goals in six games.

Last year, he garnered national attention upon debuting for then-USL Championship affiliate and now-MLS NEXT Pro side Real Monarchs at the age of 13 years, 8 months and 9 days, making him the youngest professional athlete in American team sports history.

Kei was born in the Ivory Coast but raised in Brazil, where his father played professional soccer. He moved to San Diego in 2017, then spent three years playing for the LA Galaxy’s San Diego Youth Soccer Club before joining RSL's academy.

With this history-making signing, RSL now have 14 homegrown players on their first-team roster.