Sooner or later, every successful career must come to an end. And on Wednesday, LA Galaxy center back and first-year assistant coach Gregg Berhalter announced his retirement would come following the 2011 MLS campaign.
“I am grateful for all of the experiences that soccer has given me throughout my career,” Berhalter said in a statement. “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.
“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.”
The 38-year-old Berhalter, now in his 18th season as a pro, will be honored following the Galaxy’s final home game of the season against Chivas USA on Sunday. (9 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes)
Berhalter first arrived in LA in April 2009 following a long career abroad that included stints with Sparta Rotterdam in the Dutch Eredevisie, Crystal Palace in the English second division, and Energie Cottbus and TSV 1860 München in the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga, among others.
In his first season in MLS, Berhalter anchored the back line as the Galaxy allowed 31 goals – half the number they allowed the previous season – en route to a runners-up finish in the MLS Cup that year.
Despite missing much of the final two months of the season due to injuries in 2010, Berhalter helped the Galaxy set a club record for fewest goals allowed in a single season with 26 as the club captured its first Supporters’ Shield since 2002.
This season, Berhalter’s playing time was dramatically reduced. But in the eight games he’s played, LA – who repeated as Shield winners – are an undefeated 6-0-2.
Aside from his storied club career, the veteran defender was also a long-time fixture on the US national team. After debuting for the Red, White and Blue against Saudi Arabia in 1994 at the age of 21, Berhalter went on to represent the US in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. All in all, he amassed 44 international caps.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Gregg, first with the national team and now, for the last three years, with the Galaxy,” said LA head coach Bruce Arena. "And he has played a pivotal role in the success that we have had in that time. 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.”
Although he’s shutting the door on his playing career, Berhalter will still look forward to another career in soccer. Berhalter has also served as an assistant coach under Arena this year and is keen to continue put together a career on the sidelines.
“[Retiring] was not an easy decision for me to make,” confessed Berhalter, “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.”