- About PRO
Name: Chris Penso
Date of Birth: 04/28/1982
Miami FC vs. Puerto Rico - United Soccer League First Division - 07/04/2008
New York Red Bulls vs. Tottenham Hotspur [Thierry Henry's New York debut] - 07/2010
Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders [first Play-Off game as a referee] - MLS Conference semi-final second leg.
How did you get into officiating?
I started at the age of 14 after my youth coach at the time asked if anyone wanted to attend a referee clinic. I thought it would be a good way to make some extra cash as a teenager and it turned into being much more than that as I grew to love it.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while progressing through the ranks to become an official?
Balancing the rigorous time demands of officiating with all of the games and travel required while making sure that family comes first. I give my wife Tori an enormous amount of credit for being so supportive and understanding. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for her.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?
This one is a tie for me with Don Wilbur and Ryan Cigich.
Don was the assessor on my first ever professional game in Miami, back in 2008, and has been with me ever since. He has a great deal of knowledge and is always there to help.
Ryan has been a very close friend for several years and has a great deal of experience in nearly every facet of refereeing, both on and off field. He's been a great asset in the development of my man management techniques and my feel for the game.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Receiving a phone call in September of this year from PRO General Manager Peter Walton, making me aware of my nomination to the FIFA Panel of International Referees for 2013.
What advice would you pass on to an aspiring official?
Never give up. Getting to the top is a long, windy road with many ups and downs and it will require a monumental amount of dedication and hard work. Nothing happens overnight.