By ADAM SERRANO
One of the more decorated American defenders of all-time is hanging up his boots.
Los Angeles Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter announced his retirement on Wednesday, effective after the end of the 2011 season. Over the course of his 18-year professional career, Berhalter appeared in two World Cups for the United States while playing in professional leagues in England, Germany, Holland and the United States.
Since signing with the Galaxy in 2009, Berhalter has been the leader of the Galaxy's revitalzied back line an became a player-coach in January. However, the 38-year-old also battled injury issues over his last two seasons in Los Angeles and has been out since picking up a foot injury in the Galaxy's 2-0 victory over Alajuelense in the CONCACAF Champions League on August 28th.
"I am grateful for all of the experiences that soccer has given me throughout my career," Berhalter said in a team-issued press release. "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.
"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."
During his time with the Galaxy, the celebral Berhalter was instrumental in developing the Galaxy's backline into one of the strongest in MLS as well as providing leadership for young defenders Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza and Sean Franklin.
"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 head coach Bruce Arena said in a statement. "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."
In addition to his club exploits, Berhalter made 44 appearances for the national team and was involved in one of the most memorable moments of U.S. Soccer history, when his shot in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals was saved off the line by the arm of current Toronto FC Designated Player and German international Torsten Frings. No handball was called on the play, and the United States went on to fall, 1-0, instead of potentially moving on to the semifinals.
Berhalter will be honored by the Galaxy during Sunday's SuperClasico matchup against Chivas USA.
What moments stick out from Berhalter's career for you? Where do you rank his career among U.S. defenders all-time?
Share your thoughts below.