Lynden Gooch has spurred the opportunity to move on from Sunderland after a successful promotion to the Championship and decided to extend his stay at the club that gave him his professional debut. Fans reacted to the news this week with an overwhelming sense of approval for the California-born academy graduate.
A new two-year deal will mean that Gooch will now aid Alex Neil’s efforts to continue SAFC’s momentum going as we kick on towards successful, Championship-level football.
Gooch has had a rebirth of sorts under the new gaffer. After returning from a minor injury against Burton Albion in late February, Gooch played in all of our final 16 matches, in which we went unbeaten, culminating in epic proportions with a tear-filled celebration on the pitch at Wembley.
The wide-man’s performances were a major talking point in that run-in as well. After coming under some scrutiny at different points through the season, Gooch stood up to be counted when everything was on the line down the stretch and turned in steady, quality performances to help the team succeed.
It’s an even more striking turnaround when you listen to Gooch’s interview after signing the new deal. He revealed that, in the January transfer window, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever wear the Red and White again. A fresh opportunity with Alex Neil turned him into one of the Sunderland coach’s most trusted players, a fact that Gooch will try and build on at the next level.
An older, wiser, and more savvy professional will play in the Championship this season, as opposed to the academy product’s first experience in the second-tier, which was well and truly his first full professional season. Crafting his trade in the fire of League One competition may be of great benefit to Gooch this time around at the level above.
Beyond the football, a new contract seems to mean a lot to Gooch at the personal level as well. In his interview, Gooch expressed delight for himself and his young family, including his fiancé and two young children, to stay in the Northeast, the only home they’ve ever known together.
He also expressed a dream of playing his entire career at Sunderland, a feat not seen in modern football. This is a great example to other academy graduates and prospects. Players like Dan Neil, Elliot Embelton, and Anthony Patterson will surely look up to a now elder statesman who has committed himself to the club that gave him his first break.
Another interesting aspect to Gooch now playing in the second-tier is the prospect of an international call-up during the next World Cup cycle. The 2022, US Men’s National Team squad seems fairly set, however, a successful spell in the Championship could force Gooch back onto Gregg Berhalter’s radar in preparation for a North-America hosted 2026 World Cup. This could only be good news for Sunderland. International, world exposure is great advertising for the club.
Not only are we a massive club, with top-tier facilities and the best fanbase in the world, but we’re beginning to see international breakthroughs for players as well. As we’ve seen this summer with Bailey Wright’s international success, call-ups to national teams add another layer to the Sunderland experience.
Whether he gets a call-up in the future or not, I’m elated that Gooch’s new deal is now a reality, and can’t wait to see him succeed with the team in the Championship.