Andrew Gutman’s MLS introduction was a baptism by fire.
Exactly a week after signing with FC Cincinnati, Gutman made his debut in the first Hell is Real Derby in league history – and was arguably FCC’s best player.
Before that match, FCC used Mathieu Deplagne and Justin Hoyte as makeshift left backs because of Greg Garza’s mid-May calf injury. So when Gutman – a natural left back – started, his aggressive style and work ethic injected quality on the left flank while Deplagne flipped to right back.
Gutman is fast and likes to get forward when the Orange and Blue are in possession. When they’re not, he tracks back and helps solidify the backline. Those attributes are why Scottish giants Celtic FC signed him and why GM Gerard Nijkamp brought him to Cincinnati on loan.
Though technically not an FCC player, Gutman spent the last 10 matches with the club in 2019 and is under contract through the 2020 season. One of the country’s best young left backs, he provides serious quality to a backline looking to improve from a 2019 season that saw a record number of goals conceded and negative goal differential.
“It’s been good,” Gutman said of his current loan. “It was a big step in my career, obviously. I played in the USL and did well there, then went back (to Celtic) and did well in preseason there. Coming here was a good opportunity for me to get games at a high level, and I think I’ve done pretty well so far.”
The 2019 MAC Hermann Trophy winner, awarded to college soccer’s best player, made eight appearances and five starts for Cincinnati in 2019. He also provided an assist in the home matchup with New York City FC in his second start on Aug. 17.
His arrival was great for Gutman and FCC alike.
For the fullback, he spent 2019 in transit between Celtic, the Charlotte Independence of the USL Championship and Cincinnati. By joining the MLS side on a long loan, he has time to make himself at home – a luxury that wasn’t available to him previously.
For the club, his addition means FC Cincinnati have arguably the best left back depth in the league. Garza is an experienced U.S. Men’s National Team regular, while Gutman was named to the 40-man provisional roster for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.
It wouldn’t be surprising if both are called into USMNT camp at some point in 2020 – although that might complicate matters for coach Ron Jans (and maybe Deplagne).
Gutman is currently back with Celtic in Scotland training with his parent club during their regular season. While he can’t play in matches, he’s keeping himself fit during a long MLS offseason, in addition to reminding his Celtic coaches the qualities the left back possesses.
“They’re in season, but they have such a big squad, so the guys that aren’t rostered for games will have training sessions,” Gutman said of his training with Celtic. “I’ll have a good stint of training over there with them just to get back in front of their faces and so them my qualities again.”
After that, he’ll have a month off before FC Cincinnati preseason begins, and his first MLS preseason.
In 2019, he only had a week between his arrival and debut, but that was enough time to show his potential. With a full preseason upcoming, it’s exciting to see what that can generate for the 23-year-old.
“The main thing is just contributing in as many games as I can and helping us get positive results as much as I can while showing well for myself and for the team,” Gutman said of his time with FC Cincinnati.