Jose Figueroa’s love for the beautiful game sprouted at an early age when he and his cousin were invited to play soccer by a friendly neighbor. Before long, he registered to play in a local league, and the rest is history.
“I got my parents to sign me up in fourth grade, and from there I started playing,” Figueroa said. “That’s what got me into watching games. I watched Liga MX a lot growing up. That’s how it all started for me.”
These days, Figueroa said he is passing his knowledge and passion for the sport down to the next generation, as he began coaching youth teams in his local West Brazos area southwest of Houston in 2016. Even more, he has organized for his current team, the West Brazos Dragons, a U-8 girls squad, to attend Saturday’s match against the Seattle Sounders with their parents.
“Hopefully they enjoy the experience,” Figueroa said. “This will actually be some of their first times ever going to a game. Being able to walk on the pitch, hopefully they take it as an inspiration and see how far they can go.”
Now a Season Ticket Member since 2016, Figueroa said he became hooked on the Houston Dynamo when the team played their inaugural season at BBVA Compass Stadium (now Shell Energy Stadium) in 2012. He was unable to secure a ticket for the sold-out opening match, however, decided to purchase a five-game plan with his father the following season.
“I remember the day they opened the stadium, back then I did not know anybody on the team besides Brian Ching,” Figueroa, who has worked construction in Houston’s refineries for the past six years, said. “I really enjoyed my dad taking me to the games. It made me want to see more.”
When it comes to a favorite Dynamo memory, Figueroa did not hesitate to confirm it was the U.S. Open Cup title in 2018.
“It’s tough to beat the feeling of winning a trophy at home after some years of suffering,” he said. “I never got to really experience the 2006 and 2007 championships, so watching them win a trophy at home was nice.”
Over the years, Figueroa has had some favorite Dynamo players, including Brian Ching, Mauro Manotas, Alberth Elis and Sebastian Ferreira. However, he said Héctor Herrera has taken the lead in his mind because of the new energy he has brought to the club.
“Even before he was part of the Mexican National team, I remember watching how good of a star he was in Liga MX,” Figueroa said. “Him coming to the Dynamo, it feels like a real sense of change. We’ve never had a star like him ever. When he signed, it was like a signing of intent to change the culture and feeling of the club.”
Other new investments from owner Ted Segal have also caught Figueroa’s attention, notably the fresh food options and overall aesthetic of Shell Energy Stadium.
“The stadium itself – wow,” Figueroa said. “It looks really beautiful. Just seeing how Ted (Segal) really is invested into this club, you can actually feel a sense of change in the right direction. The stadium adding local food businesses is really nice because we want to support them.”
Due to some past knee injuries, Figueroa said he has had the same accessible seats in section 137 since becoming a member and does not plan to give them up any time soon. He attends matches with a wide array of friends and family from near and far, and when the group is large enough, there is only one place to tailgate – Pitch 25.
“When we have more people come with us, we enjoy going to Pitch 25 to eat and have a couple of drinks,” Figueroa, whose oldest daughter loves taking photos with Diesel on matchday, said. “It’s nice that it’s right there at a walkable distance.”
Figueroa said his favorite part of matchday includes seeing old friends, like regularly catching up with his former high school soccer coach, as well as the energy and atmosphere inside the stadium. He picked out last month’s LA Galaxy match as the most exciting yet this season.
“It’s hard to describe,” Figueroa, who enjoys going down to the front row after matches to try and meet players, said. “That game against the Galaxy, the team had grit and they had bite. You could see the crowd getting into to the game, especially at the end with the red card.”
Jose Figueroa will be honored as SeatGeek’s Member of the Match at Saturday’s matchup versus the Seattle Sounders.