Eight officials earn contracts for the new season
PRO has promoted eight officials to the senior group who will be assigned primarily to MLS matches in the 2022 season.
Referees Pierre-Luc Lauziere (Canadian Soccer Association), Ismir Pekmic, and Lukasz Szpala step up alongside Tori Penso, who will become the first employed female center official in PRO’s history.
The promoted group also features the first women to graduate from PRO2 as assistant referees, Brooke Mayo and Meghan Mullen. They join Lyes Arfa (Canadian Soccer Association) and Tyler Wyrostek in being promoted.
Howard Webb, PRO’s General Manager, said, “We are pleased to offer the opportunity for these up-and-coming officials to join our senior group.
“They have each shown tenacity and dedication throughout their respective time with PRO2 and the CSA, and their talent and personal attributes will enhance the current group of officials working in MLS games, with whom they have already worked on several occasions over the past few years as trialists.
“This is the largest number of officials we have moved up from PRO2 in any given year and we hope their progress will continue to inspire the future generations of referees and assistant referees.
“Everyone at PRO sends their congratulations to our new officials and wishes them every success for the 2022 season and beyond.”
The Canadian referee took charge of his first MLS regular-season game in 2019 and has added a further five since then, in addition to 12 assignments as a fourth official. He was selected by Canada Soccer to referee the first leg of the 2019 Canadian Premier League Finals and was added to the FIFA international panel in 2021, featuring at the Concacaf Gold Cup.
Pekmic has been involved in 45 MLS regular-season games in referee, fourth official, and VAR roles during his career already, making his center debut in Chicago in October 2020. He has officiated high-level soccer in this country for several years, including the North American Soccer League as far back as 2016.
In September 2020, Penso became the first woman to referee an MLS game in two decades. She was added to the FIFA international panel of referees and increased her total MLS tally to eight games last year and now joins the senior group, bringing with her seven seasons of top-flight experience in the NWSL, most recently refereeing the 2021 NWSL Championship.
As well as making his debut as a referee in MLS last year, Szpala was a finalist for the USL Referee of the Year award and took charge of the USL Championship Eastern Conference Final. He refereed six MLS games in total last season and during the last three MLS seasons has been fourth official on 35 occasions.
New assistant referees:
Arfa made his MLS debut in 2020 and officiated a further four games in the 2021 season, which was also his first year on the FIFA international panel. Assigned by Canada Soccer, he ran the line for Lauziere in the first leg of the 2019 Canadian Premier League Finals and was an assistant referee during the Canadian Premier League bubble tournaments, The Island Games in 2020, and The Kickoff last year.
After working her first MLS game in 2020, Mayo’s milestones continued into 2021 – running the line in the NWSL Challenge Cup Final just eight days after working with Tori Penso and Mullen in an all-female USL Championship crew. She was assigned to the gold medal match in the Central American and Caribbean Games in 2018 after becoming a FIFA official and has been a regular on the international stage ever since.
Mullen’s first MLS appearance as an assistant referee was in July 2021 in addition to regular assignments in NWSL and USL competitions; she was nominated for the USL Assistant Referee of the Year award alongside fellow PRO2 graduate Wyrostek and worked an NWSL Championship semifinal in November.
Wyrostek followed up his MLS debut in September 2020 by being assigned consecutive USL Championship Conference Finals in 2020 and 2021, working opposite Mullen in the latter. He now enters the senior group with five seasons of USL action under his belt and six MLS regular-season games as an assistant referee.