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Loan lands Celtic's Andrew Gutman with Charlotte Independence
MAC Hermann Award winner to play left back
 
Published Thursday, February 7, 2019 4:14 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | INDIANA DAILY STUDENT
Andrew Gutman, the 2018 MAC Hermann Trophy winner as the nation's top soccer player, joined the Charlotte Independence on loan from Scottish side Celtic.

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Andrew Gutman’s loan landed him in Charlotte.

Gutman, the 2018 MAC Hermann Trophy winner as the nation's top soccer player, signed with Scottish side Celtic last month after rejecting a homegrown player contract with the MLS Chicago Fire. While Celtic intended to loan Gutman to MLS expansion side Nashville, but the league would not allow it, so his loan was redirected to the Charlotte Independence, who play in the USL Championship. They started preseason training this week, and open the regular season on March 15 at the Sportsplex at Matthews on March 15 against Indy Eleven.

“There is a good connection between Jim [McGuinness] the head coach here—he is a former Celtic coach,” Gutman said. “I decided this was the best way to get better and develop more and hopefully get back to Celtic, but at the same time, help Charlotte as much as I can, win as many games and play the best soccer we can.”

Said McGuinness: “A very good left foot, a very good left back. We are delighted to have him here. We think he is going to be a really good fit for our style of play and what we want to do. We want to be intense. We want to be aggressive. We want to try and get up the field, and make things happen a lot. He has a lot of the qualities that we are looking for in relation to that.”

Gutman spent four seasons with Indiana, starting each of his 90 appearances for the Hoosiers. He finished with 20 goals and 17 assists. He never took a penalty kick. He played for the Chicago Fire academy program, shifting his focus from playing up top to that of a left back in order to see playing time. It contributed to his versatility, and desire to constantly press forward.

“I wouldn’t regret going four years at Indiana,” Gutman said. “I think it has helped me develop a lot. The biggest thing is, when you’re coming out of high school, you have to realize if you are actually ready [to play professionally]. For me, I wasn’t physically ready, mentally ready. Over my three and a half years at Indiana, it really made me ready for the next level. Hopefully, I can make a big impact at this level.”

Said Independence striker Enzo Martinez: “We’re excited to see what he’s got. The first year can be difficult if you don’t play it right. I’ve gotten to know him today in practice, and he seems to have the right mentality. He’s hungry, and he wants to prove something. He wants show something. That’s the best quality. When you’re a young player, you have to have that. You have to be able to go out there and show every single second, prove that you belong and that you want to have a long career.”

Gutman replaces Donnie Smith and Sam Vines at left back, as the former retired and the latter was a loanee from Charlotte’s former MLS affiliate, Colorado. Gutman’s goal in the position is to make opponents’ wingers defend him more than he has to defend them, an attacking style similar to Real Madrid’s Marcelo of Spain’s La Liga.

“I like to attack a lot, which is kind of rare for my position,” Gutman said. “I like to score a lot of goals, a lot of assists. My thing is, I like to make the winger defend more than I have to defend him. The way that Jim wants to play, it fits right into my style. It’s exactly how Celtic plays.”

Said Independence goalkeeper Brandon Miller: “He is a good young player with confidence on the ball. Obviously he signed with Celtic, and they saw something in him. He’s going to come here, and hopefully provide a lot to the group in terms of getting forward, and also a lot of cohesion defensively.”

First memories of the game

“My first memory is probably when I was really young, I would just go outside all day in my backyard, kick the ball around from 8 a.m. until it got dark out,” Gutman said. “My mom [Laura] would tell me to come inside. That’s kind of how I fell in love with it, just always being around the ball.”

Life off the field consists of Netflix and shoe shopping.

“I like to watch a lot of Netflix, and I like to buy a lot of shoes,” Gutman said. “Right now I’m watching ‘Shameless.’”

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