Dembakwi "Boxi" Yomba was a promising and tantalizing prospect for Orlando City B when he was signed back in January. A U.S. youth international, former Atletico Madrid product and only 19 years of age, he seemed to be a potential future star for the Orlando City organization. But, as sometimes happens in a professional setting, issues arise and things just don't work out the way they should, which was the case of Boxi Yomba.
From our story back in January, our Michael Citro provided some nice background information on Yomba:
Yomba is a 19-year-old attacking midfielder/forward, who has appeared in the UEFA Youth League with Atletico Madrid's U-19 team. Yomba, a dual citizen of both the United States and Sierra Leone, has international experience with the U.S. national youth teams, including U-17, U-18 and U-20. He joined the Atletico Madrid program in 2014 and has been in and out of the U.S. youth national teams over the last few years. At just 19, Yomba has a lot of upside and could potentially grow into a spot on Orlando City's senior team in a year or two.
With a resume like that, Yomba was already coming into the team with more professional experience than most of the team. His work ethic that he learned training with Atletico Madrid would surely bolster the quality of such a young, mostly inexperienced team and would hopefully rub off on the other players. Unfortunately, the midfielder never really got a chance to show off that work ethic or ability that got him in the youth side of one of the better teams in La Liga.
In an interview with The Mane Land, Yomba expressed his gratitude for his time in Orlando and his struggle with injury, which kept him one step behind.
"First off, I want to thank the entire coaching staff and everyone at the club who helped me and made Orlando enjoyable for me during my time there," Yomba said. "Ultimately it was a bit unlucky. I got hurt right before the first of a five-game preseason stretch and already being out before then for the past six months due to meniscus surgery, it was a bit frustrating, but then again I had to sit out of those games. And the team was playing well and we won a majority of the matches, so players were nailing down positions ahead of the season. So I was kind of playing catch up fitness wise, tactically and being out for that long, the sharpness is gonna be behind the other guys who are working hard and maintaining that sharpness."
Yomba also credited the OCB coaching staff in being straightforward and honest with him, helping him learn more, "Ant (Pulis) and Rob (Valentino) were fantastic with me, they were patient and were always blunt with me and sometimes, as a young player, you need coaches who will tell it to you straight," he said.
At the end of it all, the midfielder wanted to play in games and with players already ahead of him in the depth chart, it became apparent that it would be tough for him to do so, considering the situation.
"Ultimately, being 19 years old, the most important thing for me was to be playing and sometimes that's hard to deal with," said Yomba. "You do your best in training but ultimately nothing is like a game. And the coaching staff at that time didn't believe I was ready to compete with the other guys in my position, and nothing but respect for those guys. At the end of the day, I want to use this as motivation for wherever I go to come in sharp and put myself in the coaches' plans before the season. Obviously you can't control injury, but I'm still kicking my heels ready to get back out there."
In terms of his release from his contract, Yomba said that it was a mutual termination, mainly for the betterment of his career.
"As a coaching staff, they just thought I would play a lot more somewhere else and I agreed," he said. "As a player, at times you want to stick it out and keep trying to convince a coaching staff. So that was just kind of my ego that wouldn't let me quit, but when the coaches brought it up, it was already a thought I'd been having, so we were on the same page.
"It was a thing that was best for both of us. I wanted to play and it began to get frustrating, but this happens in professional sports all the time. At the end of the day, we all just want to play and be happy and when you're playing nine times out of 10, you're happy. Both parties were completely understanding with one another's. And I wish those guys, who a lot of them are my friends, a fantastic season!"
Yomba went on to say that he is completely fit and will be back in Orlando training with former USMNT striker Eddie Johnson, who Yomba says will, "be able to push and keep me sharp ahead of my next move."