The 2016 Arlington Soccer League final was played between the two Sierra Leonean teams in the league, Freetown United USA and Sierra Delta. United USA emerged as champions by beating Delta 4-3 at the Wakefield High School in Arlington Virginia on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Freetown United USA punched their ticket to the final by walloping Sudan FC 5-0 and Sierra Delta thumped Mogotillo FC 3-1.
The match started with Freetown United USA on the ascendancy but against the run of play, Sierra Delta took the lead through Alusine Bangura after a horrible mistake by United’s defender Christopher Kamara, who tried to nutmeg Sierra Delta’s Alimamy Jabbie and lost the ball.
The response from United was swift as Kelly Marrah banged in the equaliser two minutes later. Freetown United USA coach Ayodele Warburton quickly made a tactical switch by moving Kelly Marrah to left midfield and the ever imposing Lamin Suma to the right.
The move immediately pay dividends as Lamin Suma toyed with Sierra Delta’s left back Amadu Jalloh “Jorgoh” and made an incisive pass to the final Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kelly Marrah, who easily tapped home his second goal to give Freetown United USA a 2-1 goal lead before half time.
Freetown United USA made a substitution during the second half with Raymond Asamoah coming off with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Chidi.
Alimamy Jabbie of Sierra Delta was sent off with about 20 minutes into the second half for a second bookable offence and the Sierra Delta coach Awolo immediately made a judicious move by bringing in Rashid “Wavey” for the ineffective left back “Jorgoh”. Also thrown into the fray by Sierra Delta was veteran striker Yusufu Sindeh “Echay”.
The move energised the Sierra Delta team and with a man down, they equalised through substitute “Wavey”. With the game at 2-2, the response again from Freetown United USA was rapid as the final MVP Kelly Marrah immediately made it 3-2 after a receiving a lovely pass from Lamin Suma to get his hat trick.
Sierra Delta were definitely not willing to relinquish their crown as defending champions as they tied the game again through veteran striker “Echay” after a mix up in the Freetown United USA defence. With 8 minutes to full time, the game was tied 3-3. Freetown United USA coach Ayodele Warburton to the dismay of the fans replaced midfielder Jacques Koula with Bako Bockarie.
Abdulai Bun Mansaray was excellent in defence for Sierra Delta even though he tackled his teammate who had to be replaced. “Echay” was transformed from a hero to villain after he disgracefully lashed out at Freetown United’s substitute Bako Bockarie in an off the ball incident and was immediately shown the red card reducing Sierra Delta to nine men.
Bako then made a brilliant move in the 89th minute and culled a lovely pass to Lamin Suma in the Sierra Delta 18 yard box. As Lamin was about to receive the pass, he was kicked on the head by Sierra Delta’s defender Issa and Sierra Delta’s indiscipline woes continued as the referee awarded Freetown United a penalty kick. The penalty was converted by Freetown United USA captain Sheriff Suma making it 4-3 to Freetown United USA.
The referee blew the final whistle two minutes later and Freetown United were crowned champions. Congratulations to Freetown United USA Team Managers Abdul Conteh and Sorie Sesay, the coaching staff and players.