Taking the Scenic Route Home: A Look at Andrew Gutman’s Journey Back to Chicago 

gutman story

While Andrew Gutman may be a new member of the Chicago Fire FC roster this season, he is hardly a stranger to the Club.

A native of Hinsdale, Ill., Gutman grew up just outside the Windy City where, as a youngster, he dreamt of being a professional footballer. 

More specifically, being a professional footballer for the city he was raised in: Chicago.

At a young age, his journey led him to the Chicago Fire Academy. While at the Academy, it was evident that the Hinsdale product would flourish. He quickly garnered the eyes of plenty, especially those amongst the Club.


His rapid growth earned him a scholarship to play Division I soccer at Indiana University – one of the most decorated college programs in the country. 

Right away Gutman was a player to watch. As a member of the Indiana Hoosiers, he appeared in 25 matches as a freshman, and picked up Big Ten All-Second Team honors. Even with just a goal and an assist, his defensive abilities alone gave him a leg up on the competition. As a result, the youngster would easily claim Big Ten All-Freshman team honors. 

This would only be the start for Gutman, with the defender picking up the pace his sophomore season. He led the team in assists, and again, picked up Big Ten All-Second Team honors for the second consecutive season.

While in Bloomington, Gutman would also be introduced to two other aspiring pros: Chris Mueller and Tom Barlow. Mueller and Barlow were competing against Gutman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, yet another Big Ten powerhouse. 

The talented young left back would eventually turn more heads after his spectacular form led to national recognition. 

In what was his finest season protecting the Hoosier backline, Gutman’s senior season was one that cemented his legacy at Indiana. 

After starting in all but one game that season, Gutman, as a defender, led the team with 11 goals. On top of his finishing ability, he was second on the team in assists with nine. His efforts also saw Indiana dominate contests defensively, with Gutman at the helm of 15 clean sheets, by far the most in NCAA play that season. 

To put things into perspective, the Hoosiers had more clean sheets than they had goals conceded all season long (13). 

To no real surprise, Gutman was awarded Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. On top of that, he was also named the recipient of the MAC Hermann Trophy, the highest honor for a collegiate soccer player in the country.

Back home, there was a mutual interest between the Club and Gutman. While it was obvious he had the skill, the prowess, and the Chicago roots, it simply wasn’t meant to be right away.

Gutman, then only 23, took his talents overseas where he became a member of Scottish Premier League side, Celtic F.C.

But even then, Gutman knew he’d eventually find his way back home.

“I never felt like it wasn't my club,” Gutman stated with pride in a recent media availability. “I always felt like the Fire was a part of me.”

After signing a three-year contract with Celtic F.C., Gutman was loaned out to FC Cincinnati in 2019. It was in Cincinnati where Gutman would make his MLS debut, appearing as a starter in a “Hell is Real” derby against the Columbus Crew on Aug. 10, 2019.

His time in Cincinnati would be short-lived. Before he knew it, he was eligible to be drafted in the MLS Re-Entry Draft in 2020. At the draft, he was selected first overall by Atlanta United FC.

He was only one of three players selected in the entire draft.

Almost a near carbon copy of his deal in Celtic, after coming to terms on a deal, he would be loaned out again. 

This time he was loaned out to the New York Red Bulls, where he reunited with an old foe in the Big Ten – Tom Barlow. 

“I've known Tom for a long time.” Gutman said. “Obviously, Tom and I played together in New York. It's great to be back teammates with him, such a good guy. I'm looking forward to playing together again and hopefully helping him score a few goals this year.”

During that loan, Gutman would make 22 appearances as a member of the Red Bulls. In those 22 games, he recorded two goals and led the Red Bulls to a playoff appearance in 2021 while guarding the backline for the New York side before returning to Atlanta to try things again in Georgia.

Yet another trade saw Gutman joining the Colorado Rapids, where he spent a quick season, and would make his final stop before coming home. 

While that many trades and transactions would affect many professional athletes, Gutman sees it as a positive. Yet another testament to his hard-working positive attitude.

“My dad always tells me every time I've been traded, or something happens, [that] it's not a bad thing to be wanted.” Gutman said. “I always look at it as a positive. Teams are willing to give up assets to bring you in. That's something to me that gives me a lot of pride, that I'm good enough that teams want to do that.”

Finally, on Dec. 12, 2023, it all came full circle. 

“I was in a position where I wanted to come back.” said Gutman. “I wanted the prime of my career to be with Chicago. I feel like these upcoming years are going to be probably the best level I'm going to be able to play at, and I wanted to be able to play for Chicago while doing that.”

A move years in the making finally brought Gutman to where it all began.

“As a Chicagoan and former Academy player, he understands what it means to represent this Club and is extremely motivated to help the team achieve our goals in 2024,” said Sporting Director Georg Heitz following the announcement of his arrival.

For Gutman, it also means he can be closer to his family. 

Since leaving the Midwest to pursue his soccer career, Gutman’s family has only been able to watch a handful of his professional games. Safe to say his move back to Chicago will boost up those numbers.

“[My family and I] were kind of counting the games they've actually seen me play live,” Gutman said to the media. “It's at most maybe one-third of what I've played. Now for my friends and family to be able to watch me play live almost every single game, that's something that I've dreamed of.”

While it’s a treat for Gutman to represent his boyhood club, the goal is clear. Anything short of restoring the glory of the Chicago Fire would be a disappointment. 

“I have a new drive and a new passion with this club to get it back to where it was,” Gutman said. “I'm just looking forward to all the success hopefully we have on the field, but also the great memories I'm going to be able to experience with my friends and family being back home in Chicago.”

As the team enters the second leg of preseason, the change of scenery for Gutman has been nothing but positive.

While he’s reacclimating himself with the weather and getting to know his new teammates and coaching staff, it’s evident that his addition to the team has been a breath of fresh air. 

For the newest left back, he’s surrounded by former Academy teammates, college friends, and Club legends that have seen him grow. While it’s been a seamless transition for Gutman, he can still see the positive areas of growth since his Academy days.

“I think Chicago is a club that's kind of like a sleeping giant almost,” Gutman said with confidence. “It has such a big market, so much potential. We have a great owner that is willing to do everything to get this club to the top.”

He later added, “Everything I've experienced so far, I've seen nothing but positive impacts within the club. Coming back home and seeing all this – it makes me very excited for the future of this club.”