Sunderland youngster Lynden Gooch discusses his Premier League debut

Sunderland's Lynden Gooch

The 20-year-old American forward made a surprise start in last Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling is fouled by Sunderland's Lynden Gooch

Sunderland youngster Lynden Gooch has admitted to Goal USA that he was "quite shocked" to be handed his full Premier League debut in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

Gooch, who joined Sunderland’s academy in the summer of 2012, had only made one competitive appearance for the Black Cats before last weekend – earning his senior bow just under 12 months ago when he came on as a second-half substitute in a 6-3 League Cup win over Exeter City.

The 20-year-old American attacker has been training regularly with the first-team in the meantime, though, and managed to impress new manager David Moyes enough during preseason to earn a shock start for the club’s top-flight curtain-raiser at the Etihad Stadium.

He certainly did not look out of place during his 64-minute run-out either, showing great work rate and endeavour on the left wing against a City side that hogged 77 percent of possession, while also managing to get forward on several occasions to help create some of the visitors’ best moments.

While the result was ultimately a disappointing one, the former US Under-20 international’s spirited performance earned him plenty of glowing reviews following the match and there have even been calls for Moyes to keep him in the side for Sunday’s home opener against Middlesbrough.

"I didn't see it coming, I didn't think I'd be starting,” Gooch told Goal USA about his first taste of Premier League football. “At best I thought I'd be on the bench. He said my name and it was kind of funny, I was quite shocked. I just looked around and all the guys were like 'Yeah, yeah, you're starting.' It was pretty exciting.

"Saturday was definitely a dream come true to play in the Prem, and have my family back at home watching just as we did when I was little kid."

Manchester City's John Stones in action with Sunderland's Lynden Gooch

As the only American who featured in the English top-flight last weekend, Gooch’s Premier League debut has also unsurprisingly created plenty of buzz back home.

Strangely, the California native has been overlooked by the US setup recently, having been left off the squad for both last summer’s Under-20 World Cup and the subsequent Olympic qualifying tournament, but his display at City has suddenly ignited chatter that a first senior call-up might not be far off.

He is also eligible to play for England through his Colchester-born father and the Republic of Ireland through his mother, but for the moment the 5ft 8in playmaker is keeping grounded and simply focusing on his fortunes at the club level.

"If it happens it happens, but I'm not thinking about it," Gooch told Goal USA on the possibility of a US national team call-up. “I just want to focus on my club career and doing the best I can for Sunderland. I don't want to get too ahead of myself. I've only played one game, but hopefully I can keep going in the right direction."

Sunderland's Lynden Gooch in action with Borussia Monchengladbach's Christopher Lenz

A standout performer for Sunderland’s Under-21s over the last two seasons, what the immediate future holds for Gooch at the Stadium of Light now remains to be seen.

Despite his impressive debut, the versatile forward still faces stiff competition for playing time from the likes of Whabi Khazri, fellow youngster Duncan Watmore, Fabio Borini and new loan signing Adnan Januzaj, while Moyes is also expected to bring in further attacking reinforcements before the summer transfer window closes.

Having previously enjoyed loan spells at non-league side Gateshead and Doncaster Rovers, respectively, another temporary stint away from the club is certainly an option, but regardless of where he ends up spending most of his time this term, the promising American’s appearance at the weekend certainly suggests that his new manager thinks incredibly highly of him.

Sunderland's Lynden Gooch

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