Welcome to another installment of our new series that highlights you, the fans. This time around we have a fan always giving some love to the soccer community, especially on Twitter. Let’s get to know him.
Name: Jeff Strong
Fan Since: 2006
Current Season Ticket Holder: No (I’ve been a season ticket holder off and on over the years. Last year, my Dad passed away and my Mom lives alone for the 1st time in her life up in East Texas, so I’ve been traveling at least monthly up there to spend more time with her. So I’ve relegated down to single games when I can since I’m not home as often.)
Where are you originally from and what is your earliest memory of soccer?
I’m from Houston, born and raised! My earliest memory of soccer is being invited by a neighbor kid to see him play in a local game when I was about 9. I was basically watching the game on the sidelines next to his parents, not really understanding the rules of the game, but thought that the game looked fun. However, that family shortly moved away and all the other kids in the neighborhood were NOT into soccer at all, just the usual (football, baseball, and basketball).
I dated a girl who played soccer in high school & saw a few of her games. However, the next time soccer REALLY had a major impression on me was when I was working alone for a geophysical company for several weeks on a small island off the coast of Russia where, aside from 30 minutes of news a day in English on an international channel, I only had Russian TV to watch which wasn’t very good until the 1998 FIFA Men’s World Cup came on! I was enraptured by the game and had internet access to look up the rules while I watched, which helped me to better understand why all the Europeans around me were losing their minds watching each game! I came back home and again didn’t really have others around me into soccer, so my exposure became limited again…until 2006.
How did you became a Houston Dynamo fan?
In 2006, my best friend who had played soccer as a kid (back before he knew me) just spent some time in England with his wife and got re-acquainted with the game. After they came home, he discovered that Houston was about to have a new soccer team. So, he invited me out to watch the new team play at University of Houston’s Robertson Stadium.
Between the game action with my friend pointing out Brad Davis, Brian Ching, Dwayne De Rosario, and Brian Mullan as THE players to watch, but then players like Pat Onstad & Wade Barrett had stand out performances to me! That was it! Seeing the game live was the final straw that made me a fan! I dove right in learning everything I could about each of the players and coaches on the team! Meeting them after the games and having brief conversations with them after the games just kept me coming back for more!
What is your favorite Houston Dynamo memory?
There are so many memories that stand out to me, but the one that will always be the first one is the night that the Dynamo beat the Colorado Rapids at home in Robertson Stadium to win the 2006 Western Conference Championship and earn their entry into the 2006 MLS Cup in front of a packed stadium full of their fans! I loved how we bookended our inaugural season starting with a sound beating of the same team at home and ending the same season by beating them again to earn our way into MLS Cup! The atmosphere was incredible and no one wanted to go home afterwards!
How excited are you about the new era for the Houston Dynamo Football Club?
Admittedly, I have hope again. After years of suffering through the slow decay of the club both on the field and off the field, especially the fandom over the past decade was very deflating.
As I said previously, my earliest and favorite Dynamo player was Pat Onstad, not just for his amazing abilities as a goalkeeper, but as a leader as well! He always communicated with his team & held both himself and his team accountable for their performance! I always felt that he cared about the team and it showed through completely. When he was hired on to take charge of the Dynamo, I had followed his post-player career & was impressed how he was flourishing.
Between my memories of how he was here before as a player and leader, combined with his front office experience, I felt confident that he could take this team under the new ownership with their commitment to investment and management forward to re-building this team both literally as well as the mentality! My hope and confidence has been building to my excitement of where this team is going! I know we as fans have been starved of this for so long that we all tend to be impatient wanting to be that fully realized dream of a successful team again, but in reality, it is a process that takes time to truly rebuild. Yeah, I know that word “rebuild” has been used year in and out for over a decade with this team & has never truly been fulfilled, but this time, it seems that from the ownership down, we may finally have the decision makers, resources, and planning to fully realized what a rebuild is and can be. I wasn’t too sure about Paulo Nagamura to be honest, mainly due to his lack of experience at this level of competition. However, he’s not like the last coach with limited experience we had in Tab Ramos, he seems to be getting the players to perform for him and believing in him. He’s clearly more successful with this team than Ramos. It still seems like he’s building his team and tactics as we’re developing through the season under him. My confidence is definitely growing under him and I am looking forward to what this team becomes with the new players being applied to the team!
What does having the World Cup in 2026, here in Houston mean to you?
I’m so freakin’ (edited for family reading, I tend to curse a lot) excited for this both as a fan and a Houstonian! As a fan, having a chance to see a World Cup game live in your city is a rare treat which I’m looking forward to experiencing! As a Houstonian, I love my city…warts and all! Yes, it’s hot & humid as Hell, but it’s home and it’s my home! Houston is the largest city in Texas and one of the largest cities in the country, but often gets overlooked at a state or country level as a place to showcase a global event. We’ve hosted Super Bowls, Final Fours, and even some international soccer games in various tournaments, but nothing will compare to arguably the largest sporting event to be staged outside of maybe the Olympics in the world! That’s an amazing thing to be hosting & showcasing in our city…our home! I look forward to introducing the world to Houston!
Our hope is that you can put a name to a face in the crowd at PNC Stadium. That you would wear your orange gear with pride and make friendships catching the games at your favorite watering hole. And never forget to always Hold It Down and Keep It Forever Orange!