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December 20 2014 9.41am

Palace Pioneers: Gregg Berhalter

March 30 2011

Gregg Berhalter

Gregg Berhalter

Gregg Berhalter is the first player to represent Crystal Palace at a World Cup.

The central defender made a big impression for the USA in the 2002 showpiece held in Korea and Japan.

Berhalter helped his country reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1930 with a 2-0 victory over Mexico on his World Cup debut.

The USA were then knocked out 1-0 by eventual runners-up Germany but Berhalter was unlucky not to score against the Germans as his goal-bound effort was controversially cleared off the line by a German defender's hand.

"It was clearly a hand ball, but it's up to the referee to see it and give a penalty," said the New Jersey born player. "I'm really disappointed because it would have been a huge goal for the whole team, but he didn't see it and that's football."

Manager Alan Smith brought Berhalter to Palace at the end of the 2000/01 campaign and he played a key role in helping the Eagles stay up culminating in the dramatic last day win over Stockport.

He again impressed at the back in the following season, but after Steve Kember was sacked as manager, Berhalter fell out with new boss Trevor Francis who placed him on the transfer list.

Despite having an excellent World Cup, Francis refused give the defender many opportunties to play with Palace's injury problems and Berhalter was transferred to German side Energie Cottbus in September 2002.

Berhalter's only goal for the club was a free-kick drilled through the wall from the edge of the box to help give Francis his first away win as Palace boss with victory at Bradford City in December 2001.

"I wish I could have played more games to prove myself at Palace and it's frustrating not playing regularly, but it's the manager's decision and I have got to respect that," he said at the time.

Berhalter won 12 of his 43 USA caps while at Selhurst Park and now turns out for the LA Galaxy with David Beckham and former Palace team mate Jovan Kirovski in the MLS.

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