14.01.2022 22:47 h

Real Salt Lake signs 14-year-old Kei to age-record MLS deal

Axel Kei, a 14-year-old Ivory Coast-born American striker, has become the youngest player to sign a US team sport contract by inking a deal with Real Salt Lake.

The Major League Soccer squad announced Friday that it had signed Kei from its academy lineup to a two-year MLS contract.

At only 15 days beyond his 14th birthday, Kei is 153 days younger than Freddy Adu, the Ghana-born striker who had been the youngest to sign a US pro deal in January 2004 when he joined DC United of MLS.

"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.

"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 was raised in Brazil, where his father played football professionally, and moved with his family to San Diego at age nine in 2017.

He debuted last October with the Real Monarchs, a Real Salt Lake development team, at age 13, to become the youngest-ever US team pro sport player.

After going 14-14-6 last season, Real Salt Lake advanced to the MLS Western Conference Final in the playoffs. The team will open its 2022 season at Houston on February 27.