Former Santa Cruz Breakers Academy Player Competing in Milk Cup, Hopes to Someday Play for Sunderland’s First Team
In the U.S. Soccer lexicon, Gooch is typically the shorthanded reference to U.S. Men’s National Team defender and two-time FIFA World Cup veteran Oguchi Onyewu.
But there is another Gooch that U.S. Soccer fans should keep on their radar, and that is U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team forward Lynden Gooch.
“I’ve heard it a few times,” Gooch said of the Onyewu references. “Some of my friends joke with me about it. It’s pretty cool.”
Aside from the surname/nickname similarity, Lynden is the complete opposite of a center back. Like any successful striker, Gooch’s technical ability on the ball has helped him land on the U-18 MNT roster in the 2013 Northern Ireland Milk Cup and a pathway toward his ultimate goal of playing Premier League ball for Sunderland.
“I’m quick and strong on the ball and I like to make goals and score goals,” Gooch said. “As a striker, I love putting the ball in the back of the net.”
The native of Santa Cruz, Calif., said he first started playing soccer “probably when I learned to walk,” and his youth career quickly spread overseas. Gooch first caught Sunderland’s eyes when he was only 10 years old. He had an opportunity to travel with a local team from California and he made an immediate impression.
“I scored a hat trick in my first game, and that pretty much set it off,” Gooch said. “They were impressed and they flew me over twice a year since I was 10 to go and practice, keep tabs on me and see how I was progressing.”
Gooch comes from a family that lives and breathes soccer. His dad is an England native and his mother is from Ireland. Gooch recalls many weekends watching the Premier League on the tube with his father and older brothers.
Now he is hoping to be a direct part of that top-tier playing environment, signing a contract with Sunderland in 2012.
“It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to play in England, with my dad being from there,” Gooch said. “I’ve always watched the Premier League, so it was a big achievement when I signed. It’s a really professional, hard-working environment. Everyone is trying to achieve the same goal, to get into the first team.”
As part of the buildup toward Sunderland, Gooch also played for the Development Academy with the Santa Cruz Breakers, leading the 2010-11 U-15/16 team in scoring and a spot in that season’s Academy Playoffs in Frisco, Texas.
“I liked it – it was a lot of great exposure,” Gooch said of his Academy days. “It was great to be in front of the National Team coaches and college coaches to get more experience. You’re playing with the best players in the country, and it only helped my game.”
Gooch had last played for the U.S. U-15 Boys’ National Team, so to have the opportunity to return for the USA in the Milk Cup has been an exciting moment at this stage of his playing career.
“I’ve wanted to do this since the U-15s, and there’s nothing better than representing your own country,” Gooch said. “I’m just really excited and humbled by it. It’s been a while since I’ve played with these guys and I’m just happy to represent my country again.”