Updated: Feb 1, 2019
On Thursday, Nashville SC announced the signing of defender Andrew Gutman on loan from Scottish Premiership giant Celtic FC. A product of the Chicago Fire academy, the left back was a standout in his four seasons at Indiana University.
A forward in his early years, he made the switch to outside back when he joined the Chicago Fire academy because "it was the only position open. But I never lost that attacking ability or mindset," Gutman said in an interview with Fuel Soccer. "I joke with my coach that I'm an attacker first and a defender second... I try to be different and not the typical outside back. I want to be more of a game-changer."
Gutman was definitely a game-changer at the collegiate level, scoring 20 goals and assisting 17. He gained national attention in 2018, when he won the MAC Hermann Trophy (the award given to the best men's collegiate player) after scoring 11 and assisting nine.
After finishing his college career, Gutman went to Scotland, where he spent time on trial with both the Glasgow Rangers and Celtic, with whom he signed immediately before being loaned to Nashville.
Gutman is a defender who gets forward. He's unusually good with the ball at his feet, able to take on defenders 1v1 and work his way through tight spaces. He pushed high up to join the attack, but he picks his moments well and doesn't typically get caught forward. While he won't be the fastest player on the field, he's positionally aware and is able to pick good angles to win tackles.
If Gary Smith does end up going with a 3-5-2 formation, Gutman would be a fantastic option at left wingback. He's not as pacy as Taylor Washington, but he provides strong service into the box and the ability to invert his runs when needed. He'd also bring some of the defensive solidity that we've seen from Justin Davis.
Gutman's loan with Nashville will last until January 31, 2019, allowing him to play the full 2019 USL season. Despite the pedigree that comes from being associated with a club like Celtic, Gutman will have his work cut out for him to break into the Nashville SC squad. While an extraordinary player at the college level, he's still untested in professional soccer. He'll also be competing primarily with Justin Davis (28 league appearances in 2018) and Taylor Washington (32 appearances) for Nashville's left back spot. However, his presence in the squad will bring another dimension to this Nashville side and give coach Gary Smith yet another dangerous attacking option.