In the 59th minute of the USMNT’s 1-1 draw against New Zealand at RFK Stadium on Tuesday, 20-year-old Lynden Gooch stepped on the field for the first time for the senior national team.
As soon as that happened, the Santa Cruz, California native didn’t stop running. That’s been the blueprint for his success so far with Sunderland in the Premier League and he showcased it in his first USMNT experience. A work rate second to none and a drive to help the team any way he can, Gooch is the ultimate role player.
He’ll likely never be a star player at the club or international level, but with his intense work ethic on the field, he’ll likely always have a spot.
He came into the match against New Zealand and injected an otherwise lethargic USMNT performance with a shot of adrenaline. Buzzing around the field at breakneck pace, the youngster showed why he’s broken into the Black Cats’ first team under David Moyes and why he’s earned a national team call-up at such a young age.
Deployed on the right flank, his preferred position with the U.S. national teams, Gooch was a misery for the Kiwis to contend with. Despite playing various roles in the midfield for his club, he’s a natural winger who loves cutting inside on his left foot to have a strike on goal.
Like an annoying gnat that wouldn’t go away, he was flying around the ball trying to win it back every time the team lost possession in the final third, even managing to do so on several occasions.
On the attacking end he delivered on dangerous ball into the box with a cross from the right flank. On a luckier day, he could’ve gotten an assist. He also managed to get a threatening scoring chance late in the match after cutting onto his left foot, but his shot was blocked.
It was a bright performance on an otherwise very dull day.
It remains to be seen just what type of future Gooch has with the USMNT in the short-term. Is he a candidate for a roster spot against Mexico? Weirder things have happened. Coaches love players who give their all for the team and work non-stop. That’s exactly the type of player he is and it could bode well for his international future.
Don’t be surprised to see his name sneak onto the roster in a month’s time when the U.S. kick off the Hex in November.