There is a growing appetite for Premier League football in the United States – and Sunderland’s Lynden Gooch admits that he is living the dream.
The 20-year-old American winger was born in California but is now making a name for himself on Wearside.
David Moyes handed him his first Premier League start against Manchester City at the weekend, with Gooch one of the stand-out performers in the narrow 2-1 defeat.
Confident Gooch has always believed in his ability and he is pleased to have now been given the chance to showcase it in the top flight.
“I get a fair bit of attention from America,” said Gooch. “In the past few years, I probably haven’t got as much as other players coming through. I think I’ve gone under the radar.
“But I’ve always believed in myself. I believe in my ability and I know I’ve always been good enough.
“There’s a big appetite for Premier League football in the US.
“My dad being from Colchester and my mum being from Dublin, I’ve grown up in that environment, even being over there watching Premier League games every Saturday with dad.
“So it was a dream come true that they were all watching back home.”
His family will be watching again on Sunday when Sunderland host Middlesbrough in the first home game of the new Premier League season.
Gooch – who signed a new three-year deal in the summer – is expecting a tough afternoon against Aitor Karanka’s Boro.
“They seem to have spent well, and want to improve their squad and make sure they stay in the Premier League,” added the wideman.
“So we know it’s going to be a tough game on Sunday, but anything can happen.
“Form doesn’t really matter when it comes to those games, it’s about passion and belief.”
The USA Under-23 international made 10 appearances during a two-month loan spell at Doncaster Rovers last season before an ankle injury brought a premature end to his spell at the Keepmoat Stadium.
“I think my time at Doncaster Rovers helped,” added Gooch.
“Obviously, playing senior games was very important for me and I learned a lot being there, in and around that environment.
“It was tough. We struggled as a team and I was playing injured as well.
“I didn’t realise it was as bad as it was at the time.
“But it was a good experience.”