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Ex-Crystal Palace defender Berhalter guides LA Galaxy to final

LA Galaxy defender Gregg Berhalter has been a major factor for the club turning their fortunes around this season and qualifying for the MLS Cup final.

The former Crystal Palace, Energie Cottbus and 1860 Munich man has been central to the Galaxy's defence in 2009, helping them go from bottom of the Western Conference to the top in the matter of just one season.

Along with 21-year old rookie Omar Gonzalez, with whom he linked to net the winner that sent them through to the final, Berhalter has been enormous for the Galaxy defence as pointed out by coach Bruce Arena.

"What's improved is our back line, which has gotten a lot more consistent," Arena said.

"They're working quite well together. They move much better, they communicate better."

Berhalter returned to America this year after about 15 years in Europe and it could have been easy for him to think he was above the MLS but arena gave the 36-year old fair warning.

"I warned him that the quality of the league is a lot higher than people give it credit for and that it's not going to be easy," Arena added. "I've seen players come back here that didn't get it done and actually became a burden to their team."

Berhalter admitted his body had begun to slow down in recent times but was confident his experience could help the Galaxy in this weekend's final against Real Salt Lake.

"Obviously, when you have someone who's 36 years old, who has been around for a while, I'm not on the field for my speed and for running by people," Berhalter said.

"I'm there to keep people organized, to be helping out and to show leadership qualities."

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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