CARSON, Calif. (Tuesday, January 4, 2011) – The LA Galaxy announced today that the club has re-signed defender Gregg Berhalter to a one-year contract that will see the veteran center back become the first player-coach in club history. The 37-year-old joined the Galaxy in April 2009 after a 15-year European career, instantly providing a stabilizing force in the heart of the LA defense, which allowed the fewest goals in club history last season.
“We are very excited to have re-signed Gregg Berhalter and look forward to having his experience and leadership for the upcoming season,” Galaxy General Manager and Head Coach Bruce Arena said. “In addition to his role on the field, he will also be joining the club’s technical staff and will be working with our defenders and the reserve team.”
A native of Tenafly, N.J., Berhalter has made 42 regular season appearances for the Galaxy since making his debut in a U.S. Open Cup Play-In Game against Colorado on April 7, 2009. His addition to the squad that season helped the Galaxy allow just 31 regular season goals, exactly half the number that they had surrendered the previous season. A near-constant fixture in the LA defense that season, Berhalter’s first-ever goal for the club was a memorable one, as he scored the game-winning goal in extra time of the Galaxy’s 2-0 win over Houston in the 2009 Western Conference Championship, sending the club to MLS Cup for a record sixth time.
Various injuries limited Berhalter to just 16 regular season games in 2010, with the Galaxy compiling a 9-4-3 record with a plus-11 goal difference and eight clean sheets in those matches. He came off the bench in the first leg of the Galaxy’s Western Conference Semifinal Series win over Seattle while also making one appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“I’m excited about the year we have ahead of us,” Berhalter said. “Looking at the nucleus of the team, a lot of it is still together and that helps when you are trying to continue on the path we’ve been on. Obviously, we fell a little short of our goals last year, but now we have another crack at it this year.”
In addition to his playing responsibilities, Berhalter will also join Bruce Arena’s coaching staff for the 2011 season, serving as an assistant coach. Berhalter, who recently completed his USSF “B” coaching license, joins associate head coach Dave Sarachan, assistant coach Cobi Jones and goalkeeper coach Ian Feuer on Arena’s staff.
“I want to thank Bruce for giving me that opportunity,” Berhalter said of the opportunity to become a player-coach. “It’s not that often that a player has both of those responsibilities so I’m excited. It shouldn’t be much different from my role on the field. It’s using my experience and my leadership to help in another capacity, I think that will be good.”
Berhalter and the Galaxy will open the 2011 MLS season on Tuesday, March 15 when they head to Seattle to take on the Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field in MLS First Kick 2011, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. That game, which will kick off at 6:30 p.m., will be shown live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, as well as online at ESPN3.com. The Galaxy will then host the New England Revolution in their home opener at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 20 at The Home Depot Center. Tickets are now available for that match through the Kickoff Pack which includes four tickets and two Galaxy blankets, starting at $96. BUY NOW