CHICAGO – The first matches of the opening round of the Concacaf qualifying process for the 2022 World Cup will start this week.

While the U.S. men’s national team won’t join qualifying until the third round in September, several Americans will be part of the opening rounds as three female assistant referees and one female fourth official from the United States will take part in four different matches.

On Thursday, Kathryn Nesbitt, the 2020 MLS assistant referee of the year, will become the first female official to work a World Cup qualifying match in the Concacaf region when she is on the touchline for Canada vs. Bermuda at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

“Katy fits the profile of an international match official,” U.S. Soccer director of referee development Rick Eddy said in a statement. “She has performed at a high level in the domestic and international arenas and her accomplishments on the pitch speak for themselves. Another of her top qualities is how she gives back to the game. Katy has attended youth events on behalf of U.S. Soccer to act as an instructor and referee coach. The officials she has mentored all speak of how their game has improved because of ideas she gives them. Katy is clearly one of the top assistant referees in the world.”

Jennifer Garner will be an assistant referee and Tori Penso the fourth official for Aruba vs. Suriname at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., while Nesbitt will run a line for the Anguilla vs. Dominican Republic match that will be played at Inter Miami CF Stadium.

On March 28, Brooke Mayo will be an assistant referee and Penso will be the fourth official for Cayman Islands vs. Canada.

Nesbitt received her FIFA badge in 2016, Garner and Mayo secured their FIFA badges in 2018 and Penso earned her FIFA badge this year.

Recently Garner, Mayo and Penso all worked non-USA matches at the 2021 SheBelieves Cup while Nesbitt and Mayo ran the lines for the USWNT’s two matches against Colombia at the end of January in Orlando.

There will be 14 U.S. FIFA officials working the first round of qualifiers, four women and 10 men.