CARSON, Calif. (Wednesday, October 12, 2011) – LA Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter announced today that he will retire following the 2011 MLS season. Now in his 18th season as a professional, Berhalter joined the Galaxy in April 2009 and was a central figure in the club’s defensive transformation that has seen them allow the fewest goals in MLS over the past three seasons. In January, the 38-year-old New Jersey native became a player/coach, joining Bruce Arena’s coaching staff in addition to his role as a central defender. Berhalter, who has been out since injuring his right foot in a CONCACAF Champions League game at home against Alajuelense on August 25, will be honored following the Galaxy’s regular season home finale against Chivas USA on Sunday.
“I am grateful for all of the experiences that soccer has given me throughout my career,” Berhalter said. “I am proud to have been able to play for my country at the highest level as well as to play for all of the clubs that I have. I hope that I represented them well through hard work, dedication and my love for the game.
“There are an endless number of people that I have learned from and who have helped me throughout this journey and I am eternally thankful to all of them. Specifically, I would like to thank AEG, Bruce Arena and the entire Galaxy coaching staff for transforming this club into the one that it is today and for allowing me to be a part of it. I have enjoyed every minute of my three years with the Galaxy and will cherish the time that I have been able to spend with my teammates and the staff here with the club.
“I would also like to thank Nike for their continued support throughout my entire career. Finally, I would not be the person that I am today if not for the support of my parents, siblings and especially my wife and children. I cannot thank them enough for being a part of this wonderful journey with me.
“This was not an easy decision for me to make but I feel that the timing is right for me to close this chapter of my career and begin to focus on the next stage as I look to continue my career in coaching.”
The final stop in a professional soccer career that saw him play in England, Germany and Holland, Berhalter signed with the Galaxy on April 3, 2009 and made his debut for the club in a U.S. Open Cup Play-In Game against Colorado four days later. Just four days after that game, Berhalter made his MLS debut, helping the Galaxy record the first of their then-club record 12 shutouts in a 0-0 draw with Chivas USA.
That season, Berhalter’s partnership in central defense with Omar Gonzalez helped the Galaxy concede an MLS-record 31 fewer goals than they had the season before, going from 62 goals allowed in 2008 to 31 in 2009. He played in and started 26 games for the club that year, as well as all four of their postseason games. While he did not score a regular season goal for the club, Berhalter scored one of the biggest goals in club history, beating Houston goalkeeper Pat Onstad from close range in the first half of extra time in the Western Conference Championship to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead en route to a 2-0 win and a berth in MLS Cup.
In 2010, Berhalter helped the Galaxy win the Supporters’ Shield for the first time since 2002 and set a club record for the fewest goals allowed in a single season. Despite missing much of the final two months of the season with various injuries, Berhalter remained one of the most intelligent center backs in the game, with the Galaxy allowing just 10 goals in the 16 games that he played in, keeping a clean sheet in half of those. Injuries persisted this season, limiting him to just 12 games in all competitions, with eight of those coming in the league. He tallied one assist in his time on the field, setting up Juninho for the game-winning goal against FC Dallas at The Home Depot Center on August 6. LA was 6-0-2 in the league with Berhalter in the lineup this season and allowed just two goals in his 613 minutes of action.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Gregg, first with the National Team and now for the last three years with the Galaxy, and he has played a pivotal role in the success that we have had in that time,” Galaxy general manager and head coach Bruce Arena said. “The combination of his ability, work ethic, leadership and professionalism has helped him become the player that he is and we will miss his presence on the field next season.”
Berhalter’s professional career began in 1994 when he left the University of North Carolina after his junior season and signed with FC Zwolle of the Dutch Second Division. He would go on to play for two more Dutch clubs, Sparta Rotterdam and Cambuur Leeuwarden, each of the Eredivisie, which is the top flight of soccer in Holland, before moving to England in 2000 to join Crystal Palace. Following the 2002 World Cup, Berhalter moved to Germany, playing for Energie Cottbus and TSV 1860 Munich in the German Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga. He spent seven seasons in Germany, making nearly 200 appearances between the two clubs, captaining each, while helping Cottbus achieve promotion to the Bundesliga during the 2005-06 season, his final season with the Brandenburg-based club.
In addition to his club career, Berhalter made 44 appearances with the U.S. National Team, debuting in October 1994 against Saudi Arabia at the age of 21. A member of the 2002 and 2006 U.S. World Cup squads, he played two games at the 2002 World Cup, helping the U.S. beat Mexico 2-0 in the Round of 16 before falling to Germany in the Quarterfinals. He was also a part of the U.S. squad at the 1999 and 2003 Confederations Cup, as well as the team that finished fourth in the 1995 Copa America.
Tickets are on sale now, starting at just $30, for the Galaxy’s final home game of the regular season on Sunday, October 16 against Chivas USA, as well as for the home leg of their Western Conference Semifinal Series, which is scheduled to be played on either Wednesday, Nov. 2 or Thursday, Nov. 3. Fans can also purchase tickets now for a potential Western Conference Championship, which LA would host if they win their home-and-home, aggregate goal, Conference Semifinal Series. For more information about these games or to purchase tickets, please visit www.lagalaxy.com or call 1-877-3GALAXY (342-5299).
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WATCH: Berhalter reflects on career