Who are the oldest and youngest players in the 2022 MLS season?
As players develop faster, and stay in top condition longer, we see more MLS players pushing the boundaries on both ends of the age spectrum
With his signing by Real Salt Lake in January, Axel Kei became the youngest player to ever sign with an MLS team. At the age of 14 years and 15 days, he was 153 days younger than the previous record holder, Freddy Adu.
Wine from a new vine
A product of the Real Academy, Kei has impressed the entire organization. Real Salt Lake General Manager Elliot Fall said of Kei, “Over the last year 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.”
In an academy system that is known for producing world-class talent like David Ochoa, Aaron Herrera and Justen Glad, the young striker has really turned heads, scoring five goals in five games on the way to leading RSL Academy’s U15 squad to victory in the MLS Next Cup Championship, taking home the Golden Boot as well.
Moving up to the U17s, he has continued the run of goals, scoring six in six games, before grabbing the attention of the world’s press when he came on as a substitute in a Real Monarchs match. At 13 years, 8 months and 9 days, he became the youngest professional athlete in American team sports history.
Born in Cote d’Ivoire, he spent part of his youth in Brazil before his family relocated to San Diego. Whether or not he will follow in the footsteps of his Academy predecessors to the USMNT remains to be seen.
The dog days of soccer
On the other end of the spectrum, the retirement of Chris Wondolowski at the end of last season has seen the baton passed on for the oldest active player in the MLS. Montreal’s Rod Fanni, at 40 becomes the league’s wizened experienced player.
The Frenchman started with his local club in Martigues before moving on to Lens, Nice, Rennes and Marseilles in Ligue 1. After being strongly linked with moves to Newcastle, Everton and West Ham, he ultimately went on to spend a brief spell with Charlton Athletic in Britain before finally signing with Montréal.
Between 2008 and 2010, he made five appearances for the French National team. He still has a way to go if he wants the oldest ever crown. That currently stands with Pat Onstad, who last appeared as goalkeeper for Houston Dynamo at 43 years, 2 months and 22 days of age.