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Real Salt Lake's Axel Kei Becomes Youngest Signing in MLS History at 14 Years Old

Erin WalshJanuary 15, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 12: Real Salt Lake's mascot Leonardo The Lion waves a flag in front of a Jet Blue plane branded with the Real Salt Lake Logo and name at the Salt Lake International Airport  June 12, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Real is the first American major soccer team to have a plane branded with it's name a logo.  (Photo by George Frey/MLS via Getty Images)
George Frey/MLS via Getty Images

Real Salt Lake signed 14-year-old Axel Kei to a first-team contract on Friday, making him the youngest signing in MLS history. 

Real Salt Lake @realsaltlake

14 years and 15 days old.<br><br>We've got the youngest Homegrown in <a href="https://twitter.com/MLS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLS</a> history.

“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 starred for Real Salt Lake's U15 team, scoring five goals in five games during the MLS Next Cup last year to take home the tournament's Golden Boot. He has since played for the club's U17 side, tallying six goals in six games. 

Last year, he debuted with the MLS Next Pro team Real Monarchs at just 13 years old, which made him the youngest professional athlete to feature for an American sports team. 

B/R Football @brfootball

13 years, nine months, nine days. <br><br>Real Salt Lake Academy player Axel Kei appeared for the <a href="https://twitter.com/RealMonarchs?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RealMonarchs</a> last night, becoming the youngest athlete to feature for a professional American sports team 🌟<br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/realsaltlake?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@realsaltlake</a>) <a href="https://t.co/ttgJVKizds">pic.twitter.com/ttgJVKizds</a>

Kei moved to California in 2017 and spent three years playing for the LA Galaxy's San Diego Youth Soccer Club before joining Real Salt Lake. He was born in the Ivory Coast and was raised in Brazil.