Excitement for Andrew Gutman’s arrival felt palpable from the moment his loan move was announced. But it wasn’t until Saturday night when it became clear how exciting Gutman can be.
The left back started in FC Cincinnati’s 2-2 draw with Columbus Crew SC and delivered arguably the best outfield performance of an Orange and Blue player in the first #HellisReal Derby.
Lively on the ball, he’d burst forward when the visitors were in possession and was a stout defender when they weren’t. His play was entertaining, and at times, exhilarating.
“I was really satisfied with his performance and also with his stamina, his fitness,” FCC Head Coach Ron Jans said of Gutman. “He was taking initiative. In attacking, he can help us. I think he did a good, proper job also defensively, so a good debut.”
His performance stands out for two significant reasons.
The first is simply that Gutman is good. He was named the best college soccer player last year for a reason and proved why Scottish giants Celtic FC signed the 22-year-old fullback.
The second says more about his introduction into the team.
With Gutman starting at left back, Mathieu Deplagne was able to shift to his natural right side. Before Saturday, that had only happened twice since May 19 when Greg Garza got hurt in Orlando.
Now, instead of players playing out of position (Deplagne at left back, Allan Cruz at winger or Caleb Stanko at right back), FCC players are occupying the positions they were signed to play. That leads to confidence and comfort – and points.
Maybe this doesn’t mean much to Gutman at the moment. After all, Saturday was his MLS debut and first chance to play for the club he’ll be with for the rest of the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
But Saturday night felt like a turning point, and Gutman’s debut was certainly a significant reason why.