, a 14-year-old forward who stands 6-foot-4, became the youngest player to ever sign with an MLS club when Real Salt Lake signed him from its academy program.
At 14 years and 15 days, he is 153 days younger than Freddy Adu
was when he signed with D.C. United in 2003.
Kei, who joins RSL on a two-year contract, scored five goals in five games to help RSL's U-15s win the first-ever MLS Next Cup championship in their age group in 2021. He won the tournament's Golden Boot.
He became the youngest player to play in a U.S. pro sports league in October 2021 when he entered as a substitute during a Real Monarchs match in the USL Championship at 13 years, 8 months and 9 days.
Kei was born in the Ivory Coast and raised in Brazil where his father played professionally before his family relocated in 2017 to San Diego, where he started out with the LA Galaxy’s San Diego Youth Soccer Club.
“Over the last year," said Real Salt Lake general manager Elliot Fall
, "Axel has proven to be one of the top attacking prospects in the country. 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." MLS Homegrown signings (2022): Atlanta United
. GK Justin Garces (UCLA), 21. Charlotte FC.
MF Chris Hegardt (Georgetown Univ. via Seattle), 20. Chicago
. FW Victor Bezerra (Indiana), 21
• MF Sergio Oregel, 16.
• FW Missael Rodríguez, 18 Columbus.
MF Sean Zawadzki (Georgetown Univ.), 21
• DF Jake Morris (Campbell Univ. via Seattle), 22 D.C. United
. MF Jeremy Garay, 18.
• MF Ted Ku-DiPietro (Loudoun United), 19 NY Red Bulls
. MF Daniel Edelman (NY Red Bulls), 18. NYCFC
. DF Christian McFarlane, 14. Portland.
FW Tega Ikoba (North Carolina), 18. Real Salt Lake.
GK Gavin Beavers, 16
• MF Julio Benitez (Real Monarchs, 15
• FW Axel Kei, 14
• DF Jaziel Orozco (Real Monarchs) 16
• MF Jude Wellings, 15. San Jose
. MF Will Richmond (Stanford Univ.), 21
• MF Niko Tsakiris, 16. Seattle.
MF Dylan Teves (Washington), 21
• Obed Vargas (Tacoma Defiance), 16. Toronto FC.
DF Luca Petrasso (Toronto FC II), 21