Many 14-year-olds spend their free time playing video games or scrolling through TikTok. Axel Kei, meanwhile, will be playing professional sports.
Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake signed Kei to a two-year deal on Friday, making him the league’s youngest signee ever at only 14 years and 15 days. Freddy Adu, who previously held the record since signing with D.C. United in 2004, was 153 days older than Kei.
Kei, a 6-foot-4 forward from RSL Academy, was born in Ivory Coast and raised in Brazil. He relocated to San Diego, California with his family in 2017.
It didn’t take long for Kei to make a mark on American soccer. Kei became the youngest professional athlete in U.S. history when he subbed into an Oct. 8, 2021 game for the lower-division Real Monarchs. He was only 13 years, 8 months and nine days old at the time.
As Kei ages, Real Salt Lake thinks he can leap to stardom.
“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 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 goal-scoring force in our league in the years to come.”
Kei was already a goal-scoring force at the youth level, as the eventual Golden Boot winner led RSL Academy’s under-15 team to an MLS Next Cup Championship last summer. Now, the 14-year-old will hope to carry his success over to the senior club.