When South Georgia Tormenta FC was assembling its roster for the 2018 season, it had a few key factors in mind. The club will be transitioning into a professional side next spring, so emphasis was placed on finding players who had either already been under contract before, or who have promising futures and will by vying for their first professional contract.
An eye continues to be on 2019, but Tormenta coach John Miglarese and his players are also quick to say that the 2018 Premier Development League season is of utmost importance since those are games and a championship that can be won right now.
With that in mind, this summer has brought the arrival of Yaya Cisse, a forward with speed and fancy footwork that adds to a roster of front line players who have spent careers building impressive state lines wherever they have played.
“I have known (Miglarese) for a while and have wanted to play for him,” Cisse said. “He tried to get me when he was coaching in West Virginia and talked to me again last year when he came here. Finally, everything worked out for both of us and I’m happy to be here.”
The move to Statesboro is only the latest in a long line of trailblazing for Cisse.
Born in the Ivory Coast, Cisse spent his early years growing up in western Africa. He first learned to play soccer in his native country and his love of the game served him well when he made the huge leap to move to the Dallas area to live with his father when he was 11 years old.
“Soccer was definitely something that helped me adjust to life in the United States,” CIsse said. “I wasn’t really a loud or talkative kid, but it’s different on the field. The game helped me to make friends, learn a new language and be comfortable.”
Cisse completed his high school career in Colorado and moved on to play collegiately at Eastern Florida State. He also spent time in the system of Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas.
“Maybe a year after (arriving in America), someone noticed me,” Cisse said. “My brother and I were playing in a Sunday league against guys who were much older than me. This guy said that I had a lot of talent and got me into a program where I could develop with guys my own age.”
Cisse has been a fixture on the field for Tormenta early this season, but he truly announced his presence last week.
Tormenta headed into halftime tied 0-0 with Tri-Cities, but was also playing with just 10 men following a pair of yellow cards shown to defender Callum Chapman-Page. Rather than replace the dismissed center back by subbing out a forward for more help on the back line, Tormenta continued to play with two men up high - one of them Cisse.
Just over 15 minutes into the second half, Tormenta won a ball near midfield and immediately went into an attack. Cisse watched the play develop to his left, stayed onside, and manuvered to a spot on the right side of the box that left him open for an easy finish.
The goal stood up for a 1-0 final to give Tormenta its first PDL win of the season.
“It’s all about communication,” Cisse said. “We have a lot of guys who can score and we push each other to be the best. But we also work well together and invite other guys to come up and join the attack.
“The more time we get to train and play together, the more chances we’ll be able to create.”
Cisse and company will hope to provide more fireworks tonight as they play a home game for the second time in as many weeks. Tormenta welcomes the SC United Bantams for an 8 p.m. kickoff at Erk Russell Park.