James Rodriguez is going to win the FIFA Puskas Goal of the Year because no one can help themselves. His goal, and moments like it, is what we watch sports for, and it commands so much of our attention because the circumstances surrounding it have considerably more weight than the act itself.
Just take a moment and think about the context of that goal. The match was Uruguay vs Columbia, the two stories of the South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014, respectively. Columbia was in the middle of charming the hearts of soccer fans around the world, and Uruguay was eager to prove that its run to the semi-final four years ago was more than a chance encounter with greatness.
On top of that, it was Uruguay vs Columbia in Brazil. This was the first World Cup to be held on South American soil in 36 years, and there was an expectation that, at the end of it all, South Americans would be the ones hoisting the World Cup Trophy in victory. This great expectation permeated the atmosphere of every South American game that summer, charging it with intensity.
Both of these factors made Columbia vs Uruguay one of the most compelling matches of the tournament. It only needed one or two moments of greatness for it to go down as one of the most important matches of the decade, and luckily for us all, James Rodriguez was in the mood to oblige.
Superstars are defined by what they do. That summer, James Rodriguez could only do the incredible, and his spectacular and thrilling cosmic ascendance hit its height that night in the Maracana.
A superstar in any sport is defined by their ability to exceed our expectations. In the beginning, we are amazed by an initial show of brilliance, but that amazement is soon followed by tempered expectations as our wisdom tells us that this cannot continue, or that what we saw was just a fluke. Most athletes never prove us wrong, but superstars shatter our expectations over and over again. They amaze, we temper, and they amaze us again.
Time after time in Brazil, James Rodriguez would shatter our expectations, and we were left to stare in amazement as we recognized the greatness of what we had just witnessed. James Rodriguez’s spectacular goal against Uruguay was his greatest achievement in a line of show-stopping feats, that is why we love it so much.
His goal is special, without a doubt, but it is not the goal the the year. He is going to win, not because his goal was the best, but because his name and that moment have the most meaning of all the other candidates. That goal established him as the superstar that he is today.
Stephanie Roche deserves to win the award for goal of the year because her goal was harder to score. Roche has none of Rodriguez’s star power and, quite simply, if the only thing that mattered to voters was the merit of how hard the goal was to execute, she would win.
The FIFA Puskas Award does not go to “The Most Important Goal of the Year,” or “The Most Famous Goal of the Year,” or “The Goal That Most Changed a Player’s Career.” No, it is simply called “Goal of the Year,” so the meritocracy with which the winner is decided should be just as simple.
When you boil everything down to a player, a ball, and a goal, Stephanie Roche’s goal is simply better than James Rodriguez’s. If you disagree, chances are it is because you have either never seen Stephanie Roche’s goal, or you simply forgot about it because it was scored by a woman and you had never heard of Stephanie Roche before.
First of all, the pass into her is horrible. It is coming in too fast, too high, and it forces Roche into a worse scoring position in order to control it, which she does brilliantly, we might add. But if her initial touch was good, her next two should get her painted into the Sistine Chapel. She effortlessly flicks it over her head past a defender, and then smashes it into the back of the net.
Stephanie Roche could be left footed or she could be right footed, we may never know, but we can tell you with certainty that those three touches own the souls of that poor goalkeeper and defender for the rest of eternity. Those three touches deserve to win the FIFA Puskas Goal of the Year award, even if you don’t think Stephanie Roche does.
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