By Rachael Humke
It was a Tuesday in June, the sun was out coating the pitch and adding to the 79 degree weather. Uruguay and Colombia were going head to head in the round of 16 at the 2014 Men’s World Cup in Brazil (2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil). It was a sea of yellow inside the Estado do Maracana (2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil), and the Colombian fans were craving another win.
That first, lingering taste of victory was tended by James Rodriguez in the 28th minute (2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014) with a goal that would win him the Puskas Award later in that year (Sunderland 2015).
The ball began in the possession of Aguilar, faced with 4 Uruguayan players he caresses the ball to the center midline of the pitch. Aguilar encourages it with his left foot into a volley to Martinez in an effort to avoid their quick feet. The ball is halted by one of the Uruguayans. The ball is pushed off its course with a sacrificing header, the player falling to the ground in an effort to protect the goal. But the ball is not finished with its dance towards the Uruguayan goal. It leaves the forehead of the Uruguayan sacrifice and floats back towards the caress of Aguilar, avoiding the formidable four placed directly in his path. This time Aguilar avoids embracing the ball. He does not comfort it, instead, like a female horse with a rogue filly refusing to follow directions, he sends it back into the fray with a swift nudge of his head. Over the heads of the four Uruguayans the ball travels again, finally finding its mark close to the heart of James. He pulls it close, absorbing the shock of the impact, before letting it drop towards the ground. The ball floats down, suspended in time as James’ foot reels back and strikes it, his body turning towards the goal. The ball flies again in a slight upward trajectory towards the goal. Past the final pieces of Uruguay’s defense until only the ball and the goalie remain. Muslera jumps, reaching his fingers high to maintain the sanctity of his domain but the shot is too good. The ball bounces off the goal’s cross bar and into the back of the net. Muslera falls back to earth after the ball has sunk into the net, an orange figure stark against the dark green grass.
The imagery of this goal, the talent and luck behind it, placed James Rodriguez firmly in the thoughts of voters. He would receive the 2014 Puskas Award with 42% of the vote (Sunderland 2015).
2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. “Colombia-Uruguay.” Accessed February 11, 2016. <http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/matches/round=255951/match=300186491/index.html#lineups#nosticky>.
2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. 2014. “Round of 16 – Colombia_Uruguay.”Accessed February 11, 2016. <http://resources.fifa.com/mm/document/tournament/competition/02/38/90/61/eng_50_0628_col-uru_fulltime.pdf>.
Sunderland, Tom. 2015. “FIFA Puskas Award 2014: Voting Results and Reaction for James Rodriguez’s Goal.” Bleacher Report, 12 January. Accessed February 11, 2016. <http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2327208-fifa-puskas-award-2014-voting-results-and-reaction-for-james-rodriguezs-goal>.