Female referees make MLS history in Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Colorado Rapids match


Some history was made Saturday night at BC Place, though not between any coaches or players.

For the first time in Major League Soccer’s 28 seasons, three on-field female referees oversaw proceedings.

The 0-0 draw between Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Colorado Rapids included Tori Penso as the head referee, Brooke Mayo as an assistant referee and Felisha Mariscal as the fourth official.

The Matchday 10 clash between Western Conference teams was relatively controversy-free until the 78th minute. That's when Whitecaps defender Javain Brown conceded a penalty kick for fouling Rapids forward Jonathan Lewis. However, goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka stepped up to deny Diego Rubio from the spot. 

The end result sees Vancouver move to seven games unbeaten (2W-0L-5D) and Colorado reach six games unbeaten (1W-0L-5D). Both managers were hoping for more, though.

"We need to be better at capitalizing the chances; it’s been a little bit of the music this season," said Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini. "But it’s better this music than the music of not even having the chances. We need to focus maybe on the last chord of the music."

Added Rapids head coach Robin Fraser: "In the end, tie on the road is not the worst thing. But we're disappointed because we thought we did enough to win the game."

Back in September 2020, Penso became the first female referee to oversee an MLS game in 20 years, following in the footsteps of Sandy Hunt. Penso has an extensive history in overseeing MLS, USL Championship and NWSL matches. 

You can learn more about Penso, Mayo and Mariscal in these hyperlinked stories.