'Chucky Mania' hits San Diego, Hirving Lozano motivated to win MLS titles

'Chucky Mania' hits San Diego, Hirving Lozano motivated to win MLS titles

Published Jun. 14, 2024 5:25 p.m. ET

On a typically brilliant San Diego day, Mexican soccer star Hirving "Chucky" Lozano said he'd like to do something that's generally atypical around here — win championships.

Lozano was introduced Thursday as the first designated player of the Major League Soccer expansion team San Diego FC, which will begin play next season.

With San Diego bordering the winger's native Mexico, the signing is expected to be popular among the region's soccer fans. A packed news conference in a lounge at Snapdragon Stadium was the first stop of the day for Lozano and his family. The club was hosting a "Chucky Mania" public introduction Thursday evening that was expected to draw up to 10,000 fans at a concert shell on San Diego Bay.

"I want to win championships to San Diego and leave my mark to this league," Lozano said in opening remarks delivered in English. Following a lengthy news conference that was conducted in Spanish, the 28-year-old from Mexico City went outside and stepped onto his new pitch and posed with team officials for a few dozen photographers and videographers.


"It's a very nice stadium, a very nice pitch," Lozano said in English while wearing a San Diego FC scarf and holding a soccer ball. 

The dearth of championships by San Diego teams came up a few times. Lozano has won titles with every club he has been on. 

"My objective is to work hard and give my all for San Diego, and we'll work hard to give San Diego championships and titles," he said through an interpreter. "I think we're going to be a great, great team in MLS. I think the base is there, and I'm sure we'll be doing great."

San Diego FC announced last week that Lozano signed a four-year deal through the 2028 season. San Diego FC will become the league's 30th team.

Lozano will remain with his current club, PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands, through this year. He’ll be formally transferred to San Diego on Jan. 1.

Asked about Lozano's penchant for winning, San Diego FC CEO Tom Penn joked: "We don't have a trophy case yet. We've got to build one. I forgot.

"He can't do it alone," Penn added. "I think he's a clear signal to the market that that's what we're after. When you make a signing like this, you expect him to be a very elite player in the league, and you expect to then invest beyond just in him in a roster that's worthy of his talent and is worthy of this stadium and is worthy of this market."

Lozano, a product of the academy system of Pachuca in Liga MX, said one of the reasons he signed with SDFC is because he was impressed with its Right To Dream residential academy being built on the Sycuan Reservation in suburban El Cajon. SDFC’s first team will also train at the facility.

Lozano became emotional and wiped away tears while speaking about Enrique Meza, the former Pachuca and Mexico national coach who attended the news conference. Meza gave Lozano his professional start when he was 18.

"There were questions at the beginning about, with our affiliation with Right To Dream, were we going to be all about player development, were we going to have to wait seven years to be great?" Penn said. "This clearly says, no, we're about winning now and having player development."

PSV recently secured its 25th overall title in the top Dutch league. Lozano had six goals and three assists in 24 matches during the 2023-24 season.

Lozano has also won championships with Pachuca in Liga MX and Italian top-tier club Napoli.

He has 18 goals in 70 appearances with the Mexican national team and played in the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. He was more recently left off Mexico’s Copa América squad, along with veterans Guillermo Ochoa and Raul Jimenez, as well as striker Henry Martin.

SDFC is owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Tribe, the first Native American tribe to have an ownership stake in a professional soccer team. The ownership group also includes San Diego Padres star third baseman Manny Machado.

Machado posted a video greeting Lozano on Instagram a few days ago. "We're looking forward to you raising many trophies like you have all over the world and to come and raise one here in San Diego," Machado said.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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