Surprising many, Celtic signed American duo Andrew Gutman and Manny Perez back under the regime of Brendan Rodgers in January of 2019.
Gutman, who originally signed with Celtic after a decorated college playing career at the University of Indiana, spent the first half of 2019 on loan with USL Championship’s Charlotte Independence until being reassigned on loan with MLS expansion side FC Cincinnati through the end of the 2020 season.
Perez, who played two years with North Carolina State University, was sent on loan to North Carolina FC through the 2020 USL Championship season. Unfortunately, Perez was forced to deal with several injuries that stuttered his growth in 2019.
As far as who is closest to breaking into the Celtic team, it certainly appears that Gutman has the upper hand after earning a starting role in the MLS.
The 23-year-old has appeared in 24 professional games in the United States since 2019, where he has played on the left side and contributed three assists and a goal.
YouTube: Andrew Gutman goal
Perez hasn’t had the best time, but North Carolina FC manager Dave Sarachan said:
I felt that Manny really grew from the very beginning of the year to the end as a professional. He had some injuries that sort of set him back. He has a lot of ability.
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While the quality between Celtic FC and North Carolina FC is quite different, it is a good sign that NCFC were so excited to have him back for 2020.
While they still may end up seeing the pitch for the Hoops, I wouldn’t be surprised if both of them never make an appearance for Celtic as this might have been a move to try to grow the Celtic brand in the United States and attract more American talent.