Tori Penso - NWSL game - center ref
Professional Referee Organization

Tori Penso to become first female head referee for an MLS game in 20 years

The Week 12 match between Nashville SC and D.C. United on Wednesday night will see referee Tori Penso officiate her first match as an MLS head referee (8:30 pm ET | TV & streaming).

Penso will be the first female referee to oversee an MLS game in 20 years. The last was Sandy Hunt on May 13, 2000. Many female referees in the years since have served as MLS assistant referees and fourth officials. 

She has worked NWSL and USL Championship matches and came through the PRO2 development program earlier in her career. Penso, who’s married to long-time MLS referee Chris Penso, has also served as the managing director of the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association.

“Every opportunity you get on that pitch is an opportunity to learn and grow,” Penso said during a May 2020 story on the Professional Referee Organization’s website. If you ever walk off the pitch having not learned something, then you’re not reflecting effectively.”

For more on Penso’s background and growing referee profile, check out PRO’s entire story here.

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