By James Whittaker
Former North Village winger Tyrell Burgess has been tipped to be a 'top player' in the MLS in the next few years after signing pro terms with Vancouver Whitecaps.
Burgess' new coach Teitur Thordarson said he had signed 22-year-old Burgess because he believed he could play at the highest level in American soccer.
The Whitecaps won the United Soccer League Division One championship last year and are on a shortlist of four teams to fill two new spots in the expanding MLS next season.
And the Icelandic coach, who played top flight football in France for Lens, said he had signed the young Bermudian with the MLS in mind.
Burgess - who said he was delighted with the move and just wanted to improve his game - will travel with his new team mates on a pre-season tour to Tanzania next month before making his league debut against Charleston on April 11.
Thordarson said he had been instantly impressed by the midfielder's technique, his touch and his attitude.
"Tyrell has all the qualities that I can see are needed to be a top player.
"What I like most about him is his technique, his feet and he is also one of the best crossers that I have seen at that age.
"He is a nice person and he has a good attitude and usually those qualities help bring people up to a very good level. I was very happy that we were able to bring him here."
Thordarson said the club's immediate aim was to retain their USL one title. But he believes they will be in the MLS next season.
"We find out for sure in the next six weeks but we have begun starting to build towards the MLS bringing in players like Tyrell who have the right qualities and are the right age to be part of an eventual MLS team."
Burgess was spotted by Whitecaps assistant coach Todd Wawrousek playing for Reading Rage in the US Professional Development League.
He was invited to try-out with 100 other players at Whitcaps' combine. And was officially signed on Friday - the only player from the combine to make it to the squad.
Thordarson said he had been instantly impressed with Burgess' skills. But he now wants him to work on his fitness in pre-season, which he hopes will help his squad gel before the new season.
Burgess, who is already in Vancouver training with the squad, has yet to get a cell-phone and was unavailable yesterday.
But he told the Vancouver Sun: "I just want to get better. I'm here because I want to work on my weaknesses.
"By no means do I think I know all the tricks, I know I still have a lot to prove. This is a humbling game and I just want to grow with this team and take the next step. I did a lot of research before coming here and know the roster's changed and the team's looking for a younger group of players and I want to be part of that."
"I've only been here a few days, but already it feels so comfortable - both the young guys and the vets are so supportive and helpful," said Burgess, who is also interning with the Whitecaps as part of his sports management degree. "It seems although the team hasn't been together a long time, everyone's on board which is good because I know expectations are high."
His dad Allan Phillpott told the Bermuda Sun it had been a dream come true to see his son turn professional. "It's something he's wanted his whole life," said Mr Phillpott, who used to play for Devonshire Colts and Hotels International.