sports   |   men's soccer

The sun is setting on Andrew Gutman's career, but he's only focused on one thing



gutman-silhoutte

Senior defender Andrew Gutman juggles with the ball while at Bill Armstrong Stadium. Gutman, along with freshman goalkeeper Trey Muse, were recently named as a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is awarded to the top NCAA Division I college soccer players. Photo courtesy of Craig Bisacre

Laura Gutman asked when this story would come out.

Nothing out of the ordinary — just a mom asking when an article about one of her kids would be available for her to read. The expected release date was the week after IU students returned from Thanksgiving break.

That is, if the IU men’s soccer team advanced past the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

“We never say if,” Laura Gutman said five days before the Hoosiers’ first NCAA Tournament match. “We always say when.”

Her expectations are the same as those of her youngest son, senior Andrew Gutman. The expectation is to win.

***

Andrew Gutman’s dad was a baseball coach, and his mom’s side was big into hockey. There wasn’t much soccer influence to go around at his house in Hinsdale, Illinois. 

His parents first got him involved in soccer when he was in kindergarten because his older sister, Jaclyn, and older brother, Phillip, also started playing. He was playing with the local American Youth Soccer Organization, or AYSO. 

In the summer, Andrew Gutman would wake up, grab a soccer ball and play in his backyard. 

His mom remembers calling her son in from outside when it was time for dinner because he was too busy fiddling a soccer ball with his feet. 

“He always loved being outside and having a soccer ball at his foot,” Laura Gutman said. “He and his brother always had one of those little soccer balls in the house. I’d tell them to take it outside because I didn’t want them to ruin my furniture.”

She wanted her son to be involved in other sports as well. So, he played basketball and baseball and had success in both. 

No matter if he were in basketball season or baseball season, Andrew Gutman would still find time to grab a soccer ball and practice.

On the soccer field, he is mobile and uses his speed and athleticism to elude defenders and create scoring opportunities for his team. Soccer is a non-static sport in the first place but watching Andrew Gutman play is like watching an animal stalk its prey and attack — with the prey being the ball, of course. 

That’s why in the eighth grade, his interest in baseball slowly decreased. Despite being a solid player, there was too much standing around for his liking. 

As for basketball, he said, “I was OK, but I couldn’t really shoot.” That’s quite the opposite for soccer. 

In high school, he played for Hinsdale Central High School for just his freshmen season before committing fully to the U17/18 Chicago Fire Academy. 

“He felt his development would be better if he stepped away from school and put 100 percent into the Chicago Fire,” Laura Gutman said. “I think he was a little surprised at the time when he tried out for the Chicago Fire that he actually made it, so he knew he had to put the work in.”

Andrew Gutman enjoys the process of getting better. He echoed the sentiments of Philadelphia 76er Joel Embiid’s infamous phrase, “Trust the process.”

He worked restlessly, and the result paid off. When he thought about playing soccer in college, he only thought about IU. The Gutman family has a lineage of former Hoosiers with his grandparents, aunts, uncles and brother, so he was very familiar with the limestone buildings on campus and, more importantly, the tradition of excellence IU’s soccer program has established. 

The only problem was the name Andrew Gutman wasn’t mentioned much in the 2015 recruiting class. He reached out to Coach Todd Yeagley one weekend when he was coming down to visit his brother and asked if they could meet up and chat. Expecting a simple conversation, Yeagley sent an itinerary for his recruiting visit as a response instead. 

The rest was history. Andrew Gutman was going to be a Hoosier.

***

Andrew Gutman doesn’t have to be here right now. 

Through his first three years at IU, the Hoosier defender has ridden a steady increase of productivity on the field. If he had wanted to, he could have left for the MLS SuperDraft after last season, and he would be playing in the pros right now. 

But, leaving Philadelphia last year without a National Championship left him with an empty void. It was a feeling he couldn’t end his career on. 

“I didn’t really want to be on a team that kind of had like — I don’t want to say losing mentality, but like the program has been so successful in many ways, and I just wanted to add to that,” Andrew Gutman said. “Coach took a chance on me to bring me here, and I just wanted to give back to the program.”

IU’s heralded star enjoys hanging out with his friends, skiing and waterboarding on family vacations and plenty of other things besides soccer, but right now, there’s no, “What is Andrew Gutman like outside of soccer?”

He takes care of his body everyday — making the right decision on what foods to eat and getting enough sleep — so he can be at his best when he takes the field for 90 minutes.

His focus isn't on his future professional career. It's on the now and he believes his leadership has taken a giant step from previous years to now. That’s why when he was sidelined to an ankle injury against Penn State on Sept. 30, he was anxious sitting on the bench, wanting so badly for Yeagley to give him the signal to enter the game. Luckily for Yeagley, the team was playing well enough that he could be cautious with him, so Andrew Gutman coached and cheered his teammates on from the sidelines.

It’s the only game he has missed this season. In the 21 games played, he has 11 goals and eight assists. A defender is leading this uber-talented Hoosier team in scoring.

In the preseason, he was ranked as the second-best player in the nation. Now, he’s a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is the most prestigious individual award in college soccer. 

But, what he’s most proud of is his team going 8-0 in conference play and being the first ever team to finish with an 8-0 record in the Big Ten. He’s proud to say he and his teammates are 2018 Big Ten regular season champions. He’s proud to say they're 2018 Big Ten Tournament champions. There’s one more thing he wants to be proud to call himself, and that’s not MAC Hermann Trophy winner. It’s National Champion. 

The team is one win away from advancing to the College Cup and just three wins away from claiming the program’s ninth National Championship. 

The sun is setting on Andrew Gutman’s career at IU, but he’s only focused on getting his team to the promised land. The College Cup is played in Santa Barbara, California, and the sun sets in the west.

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