[MLS SPOTLIGHT] After 18 seasons, Los Angeles Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter is retiring as a player but he will be staying with the MLS club as an assistant coach, a role he has held this season. Only a handful of Americans can match his 14 seasons in Europe, and his contributions to the Galaxy's success the last three seasons have been underrated.
Berhalter, 38, was one of the first Americans of his generation to leave college early to head to Europe, leaving North Carolina for Zwolle in 1994.
He spent six seasons in the Netherlands with Zwolle, Sparta Rotterdam and Cambuur, one in England with Crystal Palace and seven in Germany with Energie Cottbus and 1860 Munich.
Berhalter, who grew up in Tenafly, N.J., only played 44 games in a 12-year national team career but went to World Cups in 2002 and 2006.
The highlight of his national team career was stepping into the lineup for the first time at the 2002 World Cup in the second-round game against Mexico and helping the USA earn a 2-0 win.
He also started in the quarterfinals against Germany, having a potential equalizer late in the game stopped by a handball by Torben Frings that was not called.
His coach at the two World Cups was Bruce Arena, who brought him to the Galaxy in 2009 and under whom he will continue to work as an assistant.
He was a key the Galaxy's defensive success in 2009 and 2010. He's only played in eight games in 2011, but the Galaxy is 6-0-2 in those games.
“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.”