Galaxy defender Berhalter retires

i-f58d5f237008ad2fc7d3050e037bf815-Berhaltercelebrate.jpgGood time Gregg: Gregg Berhalter, seen here celebrating a Galaxy goal with David Beckham and Todd Dunivant, has played a major role on and off the field in the Galaxy’s exemplary defensive record in recent years; they have conceded fewer goals during his three years with the club than any other MLS franchise (Daily Breeze file photo).

In a widely expected move, veteran Galaxy central defender Gregg Berhalter, 38, who became an assistant coach this year and was restricted to just eight MLS appearances this season through injury, has announced his retirement effective at the end of the season.

Berhalter made 44 international appearances for the U.S., debuting shortly after the 1994 World Cup and going on to spend the bulk of his club career in Holland and Germany.

“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,” Berhalter said. “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.

“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.”

In LA the influential Berhalter combined with rookie Omar Gonzalez in 2009 to transform a defense that had shipped 62 goals the previous year into one of the stingiest in the league, allowing just 31 goals and helping the club set a then club-record 12 shutouts.

That defensive stability has become a hallmark of the team ever since with or without Berhalter in the lineup.

He missed the last two months of the 2010 campaign because of injury, too.

“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 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 played in two World Cups with the U.S.

Berhalter, who has been out since injuring his right foot Aug. 25, will be honored following the Galaxy’s regular season home finale Sunday against Chivas USA.


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