See all offseason moves in the Tracker.
Nashville SC has made another splashy signing. The Scottish Premier League may not be on par with the Big Five in Europe, but a second-division club in the United States snagging a player from one of the “Big Two” on loan is pretty large nonetheless.
Such is the case with Celtic FC’s Andrew Gutman, who signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with the Bhoys in Green out of Indiana University, but will spend a loan stint with the Boys in Gold this Summer. The left back also fills one of the areas on the team that has pretty good players, but perhaps not a lot of depth.
Gutman came up through the Chicago Fire Academy in the Western suburbs of Chicago, playing with the Fire reserve team in 2014 prior to his commitment to Indiana University. He was not a huge recruit – at a school that tends to load up on them – but outstripped any expectations based on his profile out of high school. His time at IU was… productive.
He scored 20 career goals, 11 of them as a senior, and recorded 17 assists (nine of them during his final year with the Hoosiers). That’s from a fullback position, and he led the team in both marks this year. He took 167 shots in his career, quite a lot for the position he plays (especially when you consider he played the past two years alongside US Youth International midfielder/forwards Griffin Dorsey and Justin Rennicks, also underscoring how impressive his goal and assist tallies were). He started every single game for IU over the past four seasons, with second-team Big Ten honors as a freshman and sophomore before first-team consideration in both upperclassman seasons. As a senior, he was not only a unanimous First-Team All-American, but the MAC Hermann Trophy winner as the best player in college soccer.
What’s his game like?
At 6-0, 170 pounds, he’s a bit more of a physical presence than you might expect, with aggressive and strong tackles an important part of his game. That may not quite be able to continue in pro soccer – it’s a different story athletically and physically than the college game – but is certainly a tool he has in the kit. He’s going to be sound defensively, solid positionally… with a punch going forward.
He gets up the field offensively, whether that’s through carrying the ball himself, overlapping to get service down the touchline, or with line-breaking passes like the extremely impressive fourth clip in the above highlight reel. He’s very comfortable with the ball at his feet (anecdotally since I’ve watch him play, it might even be under-sold in the highlight). Despite that, he doesn’t often get caught upfield on the counter, and his forays up the field are more about that ability to control the ball with his dribbling, passing, and movement, rather than exceptional athleticism for the position.
“Andrew has demonstrated the ability to excel on both sides of the ball, and at a high standard,” said Nashville SC Technical Director Mike Jacobs. “We are excited about being able to add him to our group here.”
A guy who graduated from college and goes pro at 22 (he’ll be 23 by the end of the USL regular season) is not always the best professional prospect… but at the same time, how often are USL teams going to land “the best professional prospect?” The answer is basically never never, and a player of Gutman’s caliber both as he is today and as a guy who can develop with reps in the professional setting is a nice coup for Nashville SC. For a bit of context, last year’s MAC Hermann Trophy winner, fellow Hoosier Grant Lillard, made eight appearances with Chicago Fire last Summer as a centerback. Playing at a slightly lower level in USL, there’s a chance that Gutman is a high-level player for the league pretty quickly.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Gutman is merely on loan. Will Nashville have him through the entire USL season? I’s bet on it, given that a guy loaned to the USL level probably isn’t quite ready to compete for one of the Big Two in Scotland with just six months or so of development (the time until the beginning of next SPL season). Re-joining Celtic around this time next year is probably the most likely case. He can’t play with Nashville in Major League Soccer unless they trade the Chicago Fire for his Homegrown rights (a possibility, especially if he finds he fits in here), but presumably Celtic has signed him in order to play him in the future.