Lynden Gooch at Sunderland and West Ham
From an early age when he first learned to walk, he was with a soccer ball at his feet. Later, going to all the practices of his older brother, Anthony Gooch, Lynden was always playing on the side lines and learning. He would emulate all of his brother moves and the way he would play. Lynden would be everywhere that his brother and his team was, The Lionhearts. He would follow them in the sun, rain, or snow, it didn’t matter.
When it was Lynden’s turn to play at five years old, he had practiced so much against older players that he was phenomenal in his own age group. He scored so many goals that they had to put him as goalie. That didn’t even stop him. Lynden saved a ball as goalkeeper and dribbled up the whole field and scored as the goalie. It is even on youtube today.
Because his mother, Irene Gooch, worked at night, his father, Paul Gooch, used to move the furniture around in the living room to create a wall for his two sons to try and get the ball over and score in the goal, between the window and the sliding door. It taught them how to hit the ball in different situations. Usually at 10 PM, they would move all of the furniture and pictures to the original place so there was no evidence for their mother to see.
Paul put both, Anthony and Lynden, in the Olympic Development Program (ODP). They both played district, state, and regional ODP. Also, in 2010 Lynden got called up by the U-15 U.S. National Team twice. They also had the opportunity to play in Europe. Anthony, playing with A.C. Milan, Everton F.C, and Sunderland A.F.C. Lynden also wanted to play in England, and he got the opportunity. Lynden went to Sunderland for the first time in 2006. In Lynden’s first game, he scored a hatrick in 27 minutes against Leeds United. That got the ball rolling. “Who is the Californian kid?” said the Sunderland boys. Ever since that day, Sunderland have flown him out twice a year to train and play for two weeks at a time to keep an eye on him. A couple years later, a West Ham United scout saw him playing and asked if he would like to have a trial at West Ham and he did. Paul knew this was a great opportunity, to see another Premier League club. His father knew where his son’s personality would fit better, but he wanted Lynden to make the decision himself. Lynden loved Sunderland A.F.C. and that was his decision. His father always told him, “it is almost impossible to get a look in at the Premier League clubs, and that you’re only young and fit once so go for it”. That is what Lynden did.
Lyndens last time in England was in May 2011. The last day he was there, he was in the U-16 Sunderland youth team squad for the trip to Stoke City in the Premier League. After getting the start and a goal from 30 yards out, one on one with the goalie, everyone was happy. After the game as we walked to the team bus, the Sunderland Academy Director took Lynden and his father aside, and told them that they would like to give him a contract. That drive back down to London was the most rewarding five hour drives ever. All the hard work and effort from everyone, endless days travelling, and playing in the pouring rain, snow, and howling winds had rewarded him with all he had ever dreamed for. But, his father said, “It is only just beginning, and you have to continue to work hard because there are 2,000 kids that want your spot”.
Lynden travels to Sunderland in January 2012 to sign his contract. The journey has only just begun.