WC breakouts and disappointments
James Rodriguez, Daley Blind among players who have stood out
The World Cup is the biggest stage for players to use to enhance their reputation in the football world, and while the tournament is a small sample size on which to make judgments, the magnitude of the games can leave a powerful impression. Shine on the biggest stage, and players are rewarded; crumble, and they will see their reputation in tatters.
With 2014 tournament winding down, here are five players who drastically raised their profile in this World Cup and five who were disappointing, given their reputations coming in.
James Rodriguez, midfielder, Colombia
Rodriguez is the undisputed breakout star of this World Cup, and even though Colombia has been eliminated, he continues to lead the Golden Boot race with six goals. The Monaco midfielder wasn't known for his scoring coming into the tournament, and the playmaking midfielder actually ranked second in Ligue 1 with 84 chances created. However, the knee injury that Colombia striker Radamel Falcao suffered prior to the World Cup forced Rodriguez to create scoring chances for himself as well as others, and the 22-year-old midfielder stepped up in a major way.
Rodriguez scored just nine goals in 34 Ligue 1 appearances for Monaco, but throughout the World Cup, he played a more advanced role in Colombia's attack. His six goals from just 16 shot attempts make him one of the most efficient scorers in the tournament. More importantly, the quality of Rodriguez's goals will make him a hot commodity in the transfer market, and there is arguably no better time for the talented midfielder to parlay his performance into a starting position at one of Europe's power clubs.
Guillermo Ochoa, goalkeeper, Mexico
To read the rest of the breakout players and disappointments from the 2014 World Cup, and for all of Insider's World Cup content, you must be an ESPN Insider.
Soccer on ESPN Insider
Adrian Melville weighs in on the best position fits for five key U.S. players whose roles are in flux, including Michael Bradley and DeAndre Yedlin.