Why Sunderland youngster Lynden Gooch is ready for the big time

Sunderland Gates

An eye-catching debut display in Tuesday night's 6-3 Capital One Cup second-round victory over Exeter City showed why the 19-year-old American is primed for a first-team breakthrough.

Sunderland have been crying out for some creativity amid their largely dismal start to the season and, in youngster Lynden Gooch, they look to have a player who could well end up proving a real difference-maker.

The 19-year-old American forward made his senior debut for the club in Tuesday night’s 6-3 Capital One Cup victory over Exeter City as a 58th-minute substitute and, after invigorating the home crowd along with fellow fledgling Duncan Watmore with an energetic outing, the clamour for him to be handed a first-team role seems to be gathering pace.

It is certainly not hard to see why supporters have so quickly become endeared to the academy graduate either given the both refreshing and ambitions approach he is taking to his current rise, having told the club's official website following the match: “I was buzzing. I didn’t know until yesterday that I was going to be in the squad so it was a great moment.

“I was hopeful [that I would play] but you never know. When Adam [Matthews] went down injured I thought that was it, and I was buzzing to get on. It just felt natural once I got out there.

“Hopefully I proved that I can stay in the team. I’ve just got to keep working hard playing for the Under-21s, keep doing well and scoring goals and keep putting pressure on the gaffer to pick me – that’s all I can do.”

Gooch first came to the attention of Sunderland at the age of just 10 when he travelled to the UK on a Centre of Excellence tour, impressing the club enough for them to bring him back to the North East each following summer for training.

The California-native, who also boasts UK and Irish passports, would go on to join the Black Cats on a full-time basis in June 2012 amid rival interest from Everton and AC Milan [h/t American Soccer Now], and has since established himself as one of the Under-21 side’s star performers along with Watmore.

After penning a new deal until 2017 last November, the US Under-20 international got his first taste of senior football during a month-long loan spell at Conference side Gateshead in March and managed to become a fan favourite in his seven-match spell.

Despite later having to deal with a surprise omission from the USA’s U20 World Cup squad this summer, the diminutive attacker has put the disappointment behind him by making outstanding start to the 2015-16 campaign, scoring in three straight U21 games to grab the attention of both supporters and manager Dick Advocaat.

With the Dutchman’s side taking just one point from their opening three Premier League matches, it’s clear that something needs to change moving forward and, having seen the effect Watmore’s brief but impactful introduction has had thus far, an injection of further youth in Gooch could be just what’s needed to help stop the rot.

As well as proving capable of filling a number of attacking roles, the versatile prospect as even featured as a defensive midfielder for the US U20s in the past, although his pace and skill is considered best-suited to the flanks, where he featured against Exeter.

He may lack experience and be far from the finished article at this point, but there is certainly a spark in his highlight reel-filled locker that could do some damage in the top-flight right now if given a chance.

Is he the next Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan? Time will tell, but there is definitely a lot to like about this emerging Black Cat from across the pond.

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