Voices: Joseph Lowery

What Chucky Lozano brings San Diego FC

Chucky Lozano - San Diego FC - ball

San Diego FC are taking big swings before their 2025 MLS debut.

Earlier today, Hirving "Chucky" Lozano became the first Designated Player for the league’s newest expansion club, signing long-term from reigning Eredivisie champions PSV Eindhoven. The Mexican winger is an absolute star, with time at Liga MX's CF Pachuca establishing him as one of the top young players on this side of the Atlantic. Then, trophy-filled spells at PSV in the Netherlands and Napoli in the Italian top flight established his value at the game’s highest levels.

So, what are San Diego getting in Lozano as he returns to North America? Let’s dig in.

What Lozano brings on the field

The first thing you’ll notice when watching Lozano – or, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the last time you watched Lozano play in Europe or for Mexico against the USMNT – is his penchant for dribbling.

From the wing, Lozano is a skillful and high-volume dribbler. As he’s matured, the 28-year-old has put even more emphasis on driving at opposing fullbacks. He attempted more dribbles per 90 minutes during his last two seasons, one with Napoli and the most recent with PSV, than in any of his previous seasons recorded in FBref’s database.

Looking at how Lozano stacks up against players in the best non-Big Five leagues in the world over the last year, he ranked in the:

  • 93rd percentile in progressive carries per 90
  • 89th percentile in shot-creation actions via take-ons per 90
  • 77th percentile in take-ons attempted per 90

With a skillful right foot and an above-average non-dominant left foot, Lozano’s quick-fire ball progression and 1-v-1 skill make him a near-constant threat in wide areas. Throughout his career, Lozano has been an excellent ball carrier, taking advantage of every inch of open space and knifing right past opposing fullbacks. He’s a capable passer from deeper areas, though his progressive carries have consistently outweighed his progressive passes over the last several seasons.

Lozano can play as an inverted left winger, allowing him to cut the ball inside onto his preferred right before finding a slipped ball or simply driving the ball into the box himself. Next year, expect to see more than a few goals for San Diego that look an awful lot like this one:

Or Lozano can play as a traditional winger on the right side, frequently getting to the endline and hitting well-weighted cutbacks into the box. The tempo and texture on his final balls from the right wing are consistently impressive.

Defenders tend to be afraid of Lozano’s speed and close control, which can lead them to give San Diego’s newest star even more time to poke holes in the opposing backline. You can see that exact situation playing out in the clip down below. Lozano receives the ball on the right wing, has time and space, moves inside, and plays a clean one-two with a teammate before slotting the ball home.

How Chucky compares to other top MLS players

While Lozano's national-team profile has waned slightly (he wasn’t selected to be part of Mexico’s squad at this summer’s Copa América), he’s still an elite club player as a massive threat on the wing.

It’s hard to imagine Lozano won’t be among the top wingers in MLS when he arrives in January before making his debut at the start of the 2025 campaign. Few players in MLS history have notched Lozano’s accomplishments overseas and returned to North America while still in their 20s, putting San Diego’s big-money signing in impressive company.

So many of the league’s best wingers call California home. From LAFC’s Denis Bouanga to the LA Galaxy’s Joseph Paintsil to the San Jose EarthquakesCristian Espinoza, the Western Conference has a group of elite wide players. Lozano has the tools to find himself among that group, competing for a spot in the MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire.

Throughout his career, he’s been the most well-rounded of the bunch. He’s a capable crosser, but doesn’t rely on those crosses as much as Espinoza. He’s a vertical threat, but doesn’t go north-south as much as Paintsil (or as east-west as Bouanga). He’ll take a shot from distance, but doesn’t fire off as many hopeful efforts as Bouanga.

Lozano has been the most productive attacker of the group, though, averaging more non-penalty goals per 90 minutes (0.37) and more goal contributions per 90 (0.61) of his soon-to-be-peers.

Expansion life is seldom easy, but Lozano has the tools to carve out a place among the absolute best in his position.

A versatile playmaker

With a slew of huge decisions still to be made ahead of San Diego FC’s expansion season, Lozano’s versatility is a major asset.

Ties to Right to Dream and sister side FC Nordsjælland, a club that consistently dominates the ball in Denmark’s top division, suggest a possession-heavy style of play could be on the cards in San Diego. However, without a manager or chief soccer officer in place, it’s impossible to do anything but make an educated guess about their tactical approach.

For most of his time in Europe, Lozano played on ball-dominant teams. And yet, his athleticism and clinical ball progression make the winger a huge threat in attacking transitions, too. His experience and skillset in wide areas will help Lozano adapt to whatever style San Diego choose to implement.

Uncertainty abounds ahead of every club’s expansion season – that’s undoubtedly the case for San Diego, whose roster sits at four players as they march towards a couple of huge transfer windows. But Lozano provides a sort of safety net. You don’t want to worry about the top players on your roster. On the contrary, you want your opponents to be stuck worrying about those players.

When it comes to Lozano, worry they will.