The 23-year-old play maker carried Colombia to unknown grounds by making it to the quarterfinals in the World Cup for the first time.
Byline: Jorge Belon, Editor in Chief
Rodríguez entered the tournament as an unknown player to most of the world, however, after playing five games in the World Cup and scoring 6 goals and winning the Golden Boot award in the process, the young Colombian guided his nation to their first quarterfinal appearance.
Entering the World Cup Colombia success was already in a lot of doubt, since their star forward Radamel Falcao was out with a torn ACL that he suffered on January 23 of this year. Falcao lead Colombia in qualifications by scoring 15 goals to guide the South American nation to their first World Cup since 1998 in France.
When the striker went down in his club match for AS Monaco, the Colombians hopes of going far into the World Cup with their star forward were almost evaporated immediately. The other players on this team were talented, but they needed one person to take the work load as Falcao had during qualification.
The man who rose to the occasion was Rodríguez, he got going right away. As he scored in the first match of the World Cup against Greece in their opening 3-0 victory in group C. That first goal was only the start, as he would end up scoring six in total and getting two assists in the process.
He led them through the group stages as they won their group by winning every game, the Colombians entered the next stage against the veteran Uruguay national team. The 23-year-old would step up and score both goals to sink Uruguay and send the Cafeteros to their first quarterfinal appearance, after defeating their fellow South American neighbors 2-0, and also got his third man of the match award in four games.
“I only want to help us so that the team can win,” Rodriguez told FIFA.com after beating Uruguay in the round of 16. ‘I want to help and do my share so that Colombia will make it far.”
However, the quarterfinals was were the young Rodríguez and the rest of the Colombian would crash out of the World Cup, as they were defeated by the host nation Brazil 2-1 at Fortaleza on July the fourth. However, the 23-year-old still managed to get a goal against Brazil, even though he was fouled six times in the match.
The world might have been shocked by his performance, but the Colombian Coach José Pékerman was not surprised from Rodríguez performance, but instead he expected it to happen.
“The work of James in the World Cup has been excellent,” Pékerman told FIFA.com after suffering the narrow 2-1 defeat in the quarterfinals to Brazil. “We expected this of him because he is an exceptional player that has huge talent and ambition.”
It is clear that without him this team might have not made it out of the group stages since he was involved with eight of the 12 goals that Colombia scored at the World Cup.
Now the world can enjoy his most spectacular goal he scored in the World Cup, against Uruguay in the round of 16 match, on June 28 at Rio De Janeiro. Here is the link to the wonder volley goal that he shot from distance to break the backs of Uruguay, and sent every person in the Estádio Do Maracanã in awe.
http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=intl:1920189, video provided by ESPN FC.