Sulte signs contract with Major League Soccer team in Portland

November 12, 2020

Hunter Sulte

The Portland Timbers have tapped into the state of Alaska to secure their goalkeeper of the future.

Teenage prodigy Hunter Sulte of Anchorage has agreed to terms on a four-year deal to make him the first Alaskan to sign a Homegrown Player contract with a Major League Soccer team.

Sulte, 18, has been a part of the Timbers Academy since 2016 when he left Alaska as a Mears Middle School seventh grader to pursue his dream of playing professional soccer.

The 6-foot-7 goalkeeper is a senior at Southridge High School in Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his grandparents. His parents still live in Anchorage and his little sister goes to Dimond.

Sulte turned down a scholarship offer from defending NCAA College Cup champion Georgetown University, opting to begin his pro career with the Timbers.

Portland plucked him from a ODP camp in Alaska four years ago and put him in the Timbers Academy, which helped accelerate his development.

He has represented the club at the U-14, U-16/17 and U-18/19 levels, and made eight of 16 starts during this year’s USL Championships. He also trained with the Timbers before the 2020 season.

“We are very excited to sign an academy player who has shown all the signs and promise of a great future with the Timbers,” Portland coach Giovanni Savarese said. “We feel that this is the best move for him to continue to develop and are invested in Hunter as a player.”

“We look forward to working with Hunter to fulfill his potential at the professional level and be a goalkeeper for the Timbers for many years to come,” said Portland general manager Gavin Wilkinson.

Sulte is believed to be the second player from Alaska to sign an MLS contract.

The first was Ely Allen, who was born in Anchorage but left in middle school for Kent, Washington, where he played for Kentridge High School.

The midfielder then went to the University of Washington from 2004 to 2007 before getting drafted No. 21 overall in 2008 by the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Allen scored 10 goals in 63 career MLS games with Los Angeles, Seattle, D.C. and Minnesota.

Talking with a few Alaska soccer historians, nobody is sure Allen even played club in Alaska.

Meanwhile, Sulte grew up playing for the Cook Inlet Soccer Club and so his signing hit home with the local community.

“Hunter was one of my ’02s at Cook Inlet,” said Matt Froehle. “Good kid.”

Alaska has had at least two other players participate in MLS academies in Jake Stoke and Obed Vargas, both with the Seattle Sounders.