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Real Salt Lake sign MLS’s youngest player Axel Kei, 14

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Step aside Freddy Adu. Major League Soccer has a new youngest player.

Real Salt Lake signed 14-year-old striker Axel Kei on a local contract on Friday, giving him a two-year deal.

Kei is 14 years and 15 days old. Adu was 153 days older when he signed with DC United in 2004 after being selected first tier in the MLS SuperDraft.

Originally from Ivory Coast, Kei grew up in Brazil, where his father was a professional footballer. The family moved to San Diego in 2017.

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Kei was part of the Real Salt Lake academy, leading his Under-15 team to a championship in 2021 when he was the tournament’s top scorer.

Kei made history on October 8 when he appeared for the Real Monarchs of a USL Championship, the next level of football below MLS in the United States. He was 13 years, 8 months and 9 days old, which would have made him the youngest athlete to play for a professional sports team in the United States.

“Over the past year, Axel has proven to be one of the top offensive 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 goalscoring force in our league in years to come.”

Adu was hailed as a future superstar when he made his MLS debut, but ended up with just 11 goals in 87 games for DC United. He ended up playing for teams around the world but never achieved anything approaching the success that was predicted.