Throughout Indiana men’s soccer’s storied history, few players have had college careers as robust as former defender Andrew Gutman. A MAC Hermann Trophy winner in his senior season, back-to-back College Cup appearances in 2017 and 2018, and the captain of a Big Ten regular season and tournament title team, Gutman’s list of achievements is nearly unmatched.
In four seasons with the Hoosiers, Gutman scored 20 goals, including 11 game-winners, attempted 169 shots and totaled 57 points. The uber-versatile defender was nearly impossible to contain, often playing a positionless brand of soccer in which he was counted on to be as productive on the defensive end as he was scoring goals and setting up teammates in the attacking zone.
A native of Hinsdale, Illinois, Gutman started all 90 matches that he appeared in for the Hoosiers. In 2018, playing alongside the likes of former IU players Justin Rennicks, Griffin Dorsey, Rece Buckmaster, Jeremiah Gutjahr and others, Gutman captained one of the most talented rosters in program history. IU finished the regular season a perfect 8-0 in Big Ten play en route to capturing the program’s first Big Ten Double since 2006. The magical season came just short of a ninth national championship, however, as the Hoosiers fell to Maryland, 2-0, in the College Cup semifinals.
Following his senior season, Gutman signed a three-year deal with Celtic F.C. of the Scottish Premiership. On Aug. 3, 2019, Celtic loaned Gutman to FC Cincinnati of Major League Soccer.
Though his statistics may never elicit full justice to his career as a Hoosier, Gutman’s leadership and intangibles arguably meant more to the program than any player of the past decade. IU’s success in the latter half of the 2010s coincided with Gutman’s arrival in Bloomington in 2015, and since then, the program has asserted itself atop the Big Ten and as a perennial contender for the College Cup.
The Hoosier Network recently caught up with Gutman, who answered questions about his transition to professional soccer, lessons that stuck with him from his time at IU and how he’s spent his time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: You’re about a year and a half removed from playing at IU and into the professional soccer world. What has the transition been like for you in adjusting to the heightened talent level and expectations in Europe/MLS?
A: The transition at first was tough; going from college soccer to Celtic was a massive jump and I think I found out quickly how much I needed to improve. After a quick three months (playing for the Charlotte Independence of the USL), I knew that I was ready to really make a push at Celtic. So, when I went back for preseason I felt I was at the level of the players within the camp. Work permit issues didn’t allow me to stay, but then I made a loan move to MLS and felt that I would be able to thrive in this league and have been confident ever since I made my loan move to FC Cincinnati.
The one thing I will say that is different in Europe than the USA is the expectation of playing at a certain level. Every training session at Celtic I was very nervous to make a mistake because at any given day I could be dropped to the second team, and I know there were 25 players down there waiting for someone to slip up and for them to get their chance….you do not get that feeling when you play in the MLS.
Q: The coronavirus pandemic has obviously taken a toll on sports, including soccer. How have you navigated all the uncertainty?
A: The pandemic has been tough for everyone and I think everyone handles it differently. I focused on maintaining my high level of fitness, but I also used the time to re-enroll in school and work on completing my business degree at Kelley.”
Q: It’s no secret that Coach Yeagley and IU’s staff are some of the best at preparing players for pro soccer. Is there anything (coaching, lessons, skills etc.) that has still stuck with you from IU’s coaching staff?
A: I think the one thing that stuck with me was (Yeagley) telling me, “Gutty, you got away with it here, but at the next level you won’t be able to.” What he was talking about was me trying certain things that I probably shouldn’t have been doing. I made one of those mistakes in the MLS and we got punished for a goal, and immediately I thought of (Yeagley) making that comment. I’m still young and will make mistakes, but I’m glad (Yeagley) was so hard on me for always making the correct play, regardless if I could get away with doing something else.
Q: You had one of the most accomplished careers at IU — a MAC Hermann Trophy, a Big Ten Double, back-to-back College Cups and much more. What are some things you’re most proud of from your time in Bloomington?
A: Yeah, I think there are a lot of things I’m proud of that I accomplished at IU. I think what I am most proud of was deciding to come back for my senior season and being the leader of a team that won the double, went 8-0 in the Big Ten and made a College Cup appearance. (Senior) year was the first time I was ever able to be a leader of a team, and I am very proud of how I handled it and I am proud of how productive we were. I have a great sense of pride that I was able to be the rock on the best team in the country and have guys constantly look to me for advice or to back them up… it’s a year I’ll never forget.
And to top it all off… winning the MAC Hermann at the end of the year was crazy. It was one of the most emotional nights of my life. I remember after I won it I was sitting down with my dad and we just were talking about my path to that moment. From thinking in eighth grade that I wanted to be a baseball player all the way to winning that award. A few days later I was on a flight to Europe to sign my first professional contract… I would’ve never in a million years guessed this would happen to me, but it just was all the hard work and dedication to the sport that catapulted me into the life I have now.
Q: Have you been able to stay in touch with some of your former IU teammates? You’ve been able to play against a few of them, what’s that experience like going from teammate to opponent?
A: Yeah, I keep in touch with a lot of the guys. I was able to play against (Rece Buckmaster) and we actually swapped jerseys after the game. In the off-season, a few of us went on a holiday down in Florida together, which was a great time to catch up and have a good laugh again like we used to every day in college. I try to keep up with how everyone is doing at their teams, but it’s sometimes hard to do. Whenever I can make an effort to see my boys I always go for it.