As Max Wilschrey nearly registered a hat trick in his debut with the Chattanooga Football Club, the native of Germany provided a flash of what could come in Saturday night's 2-2 draw with Greenville to open the National Premier Soccer League regular season.
Wilschrey scored with his left foot in the sixth minute off a beautiful pass over the top from Felipe Oliveira. He also netted the equalizer in the 61st. A free kick from captain Juan Hernandez went to the far right of the box, from where Danny Valenciano crossed back to the sliding man of the match.
"I came to CFC to play in front of big crowds and great fans," said Wilschrey, who was a first-team Conference USA standout last fall with Old Dominion. "I really like the system we have. We have really fast wingers, and I need to stay in the box. My job is to score goals."
While three points eluded the home team at Finley Stadium, where 3,187 fans gathered, it was clear the CFC attack has a chance to be dynamic.
Corner kicks provided a handful of dangerous chances, often targeted for the high-leaping Jordan Dunstan.
"We have a lot of different ways we can attack teams," CFC coach Bill Elliott said. "We have some big guys who are great on set pieces. We have players who have great footwork and can speed past you. Now we have to figure out how the pieces of the puzzle work."
The rest of May will be a learning stretch for a full squad that just arrived in town this past week. Several expected playmakers still are waiting to be cleared to play.
Greenville FC tied the score at 1 in the 28th minute on a penalty kick that Jamie North knocked into the back right net.
The expected early pains of a new season were evident as CFC looked capable of scoring in a flurry but could not find a way to break through.
The South Carolina team's defense held strong and denied repeated dangerous chances thrown at them to maintain the draw.
"We created more than enough chances to win the game and got a couple goals out of it," Elliott said. "If we can continue to play quick, creative, attacking soccer, the season is going to go well. Max really executed tonight at striker and had a good debut."
CFC will host its "biggest match" in club history against La Liga's Real Betis next Saturday at 6 p.m.
"Every competitive athlete is always curious and wants to measure themselves against the best in the world," Elliott said. "We get to play a team who is playing in arguably the top league in the world. They are excited, and it should be an interesting night."