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Former Chicago Fire prospect Andrew Gutman signs with Celtic, goes on loan in USL

Dec 8, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Indiana Hoosiers defender Andrew Gutman (15) reacts after scoring a goal against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the second half during the College Cup semifinal at Talen Energy Stadium. (James Lang-USA TODAY Sports)

To say the last two months have been hectic for Andrew Gutman would be putting it mildly.

In December, he helped Indiana make the College Cup semifinals in his senior season. Later that month, he went on trial with Scottish club Rangers. In early January, he won the Hermann Trophy, given to college soccer’s best player.

And on Thursday, he officially signed with Celtic in Scotland, Rangers’ main rival. Then, he was immediately sent out on loan to Nashville SC in the United Soccer League for the 2019 season.

Thursday’s move ends the back-and-forth drama that began with word that Gutman turned down the Chicago Fire’s homegrown contract offer. During his trial at Rangers, he was there with former Fire right back Matt Polster, who signed with Rangers on Wednesday. Gutman instead opted for the other Glasgow power.

After the MLS SuperDraft Jan. 11, Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez mentioned that Gutman opted to sign with Celtic.

“Andrew has indicated to me that he has signed with Celtic,” Rodriguez said then. “He wrote me a really nice note and I’ve spoken to him over the phone. He’s excited. We’re flattered that a world club like Celtic would be interested in a player that we helped form. I think Indiana University should take great pride in how they helped form Andrew as well. I know it wasn’t an easy decision for Andrew. He loves the club. We did, with Major League Soccer, in my opinion, make a compelling offer. Two years guaranteed at a very good salary. So this was not a decision he took lightly, but again, we wish Andrew the best of luck.”

The Fire academy product’s move to Celtic hit a snag relating to his work permit. That appeared to open the door for Gutman to land elsewhere, but Celtic still finalized the contract and opted to send him on loan instead of giving up on him entirely.

The Fire still hold Gutman’s MLS rights, which would have made a loan elsewhere in the league difficult. Teams wouldn’t have been willing to give up much for his rights considering he would only be on loan.

Nashville gets a well-regarded prospect who would have been among the top few picks in the draft had he entered. Celtic buys some time to get his work permit to go through. The worst-case scenario for Celtic is that they can’t get his work permit and sell him on elsewhere with minimal risk in the first place considering he arrived without a transfer fee.

Gutman, a left back, would have had a chance to step right in at left back for the Fire.  Brandon Vincent’s unexpected retirement at the end of the 2018 season left an opening at the position that hasn’t yet been filled.

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