Jurgen Klinsmann recently named his 23 man roster for upcoming friendlies against Cuba (in Havana) and New Zealand (at RFK). While the roster isn’t your normal list of call ups, it is very Euro-centric. There are names you know on the roster, like Christian Pulisic, but there is one name on the roster that people might not be familiar, Sunderland utility man Lynden Gooch.
Who is Lynden Gooch you say?
Glad you asked.
The 20-year-old was born in Santa Cruz, California to a British father and Irish mother (which would help him move abroad) and has moved himself up the ranks in Sunderland’s youth system all the way to the senior team.
He joined the Black Cats Academy at the age of 12. Gooch had been noticed by Sunderland a couple years before that when his youth team made a trip to England, where he scored a hat trick in his first match against Sunderland’s youth squad.
He was brought back over to Wearside a few times to train with the team, he also got to train with AC Milan and Everton before signing with the Black Cats. Gooch would sign his first contract at the age of 17. Last season, Gooch scored in the first three games of the U21 Premier League, which made him just the second American to win Barclays Player Of The Month. Even though he only played 10 of 22 matches he still ended the term in second with 5 goals and 3 assists.
While he is eligible to play for England, Ireland or the United States - he’s gone with the red, white and blue and has made that no secret.
Though he did get called up to the Ireland U18 squad once to “just see what it’s like”. He’s been a staple for the USMNT U20’s, and helped them get to the U20 World Cup in 2015 though he did not get called up for that World Cup.
He’s made a total of 6 starts so far this season for the Black Cats.
What’s his game?
He can operate from multiple positions on the field, he can also either go out wide on the flank, support as a striker, or go from box-to-box. For only being 5’8” he’s very physical with pace. He loves to shoot from range and scored a couple screamers last year in the Reserve league. Sunderland developmental director Kevin Ball has said that Gooch has the technical ability rarely seen in the youth system that couldn’t be matched.
When Gooch plays you could possibly compare him to his boyhood idol Landon Donovan. His ease on the ball, his dribbling and his ability to create chances.
“I was at Spartans Stadium every week watching him play,” Gooch said of Donovan. “He was my idol as a kid, as much as probably every American kid who was playing. It’s amazing to see him come back and continue playing and score a goal against Kansas City. He has definitely been a role model. I actually got to meet him last year in Manchester which was really nice. It was good. He is a nice guy and nice to meet him but I was a bit starstruck. It was amazing to meet him.”
- Lynden Gooch; Source
Will he be as good as his idol on the International stage? Probably not. But Gooch is a solid player who can play multiple positions - which is always a good thing. He’ll get a chance to show what he can do when he gets his first cap for the United States in the coming days. Which might come in the historic match when the United States travels to Cuba. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, that he could play his way onto the roster that will be taking on Mexico when the United States enters the Hex.
Here are all his touches in his debut versus Manchester City.
Here is a compilation of Gooch when he was playing for Sunderland's U21 squad last term.