Andrew Gutman won’t be putting on a Nashville SC uniform in 2019.
Gutman — the recent recipient of college soccer’s Hermann Trophy — signed a three-and-half-year contract with Celtic FC, a power in the Scottish Premier League, on Thursday. Celtic then loaned Gutman back to the U.S. with Nashville SC, a USL Championship side.
But Major League Soccer quickly stepped in. A statement from Nashville SC sent out Saturday said “MLS does not support the transaction,” so Nashville will not be proceeding with the loan. The club has since removed the tweet and a story on its website announcing the Gutman loan.
“This past week, Nashville Soccer Club had announced its intent to take defender Andrew Gutman on loan from Celtic F.C. However, as an expansion member of MLS and in light of the fact that MLS does not support the transaction, Nashville will not be proceeding with the loan,” the full statement read. “We wish Andrew the best this season, and we will have no further comment on the matter.”
Nashville is set to play its second season in the USL Championship in 2019, and will become an MLS expansion team in 2020. The club has already signed players to MLS deals.
Gutman is a 22-year-old defender and a native of Illinois who just wrapped up a decorated college career at Indiana University, where he tallied 20 goals and 17 assists in 90 matches for the Hoosiers. Before Gutman went to college, he came up in the Chicago Fire’s academy system and was a target for the MLS club as a homegrown signee.
But Gutman turned down the Fire’s homgrown contract offer and opted to sign with Celtic. Before signing, Gutman also went on trial with Celtic’s rival, Rangers.
What complicates things is that the Fire still hold Gutman’s MLS rights. While Nashville won’t be an MLS team in 2019, it will be soon. An MLS team wanting to sign Gutman — or get him on-loan — would have to acquire his rights from the Fire.
The Fire were not involved in the loan to Nashville falling through, according to sources, but the club declined to comment on Gutman’s situation. A Nashville SC spokesman declined to comment further on Gutman and said the club stands by its statement.
Celtic also signed another American, defender Manny Perez from N.C. State, to a similar deal last week and loaned him to North Carolina FC. According to a North Carolina FC spokesman, the USL said there is no reason to believe Perez’s loan will be canceled. Perez will join NCFC for its preseason camp on Monday.
The next step for Gutman and Celtic is unclear. But if the club still wants to loan him to a USL club, it will have to find one without an MLS affiliation.
Pro Soccer USA’s Dan Santaromita contributed to this story.