James Rodriguez helped Colombia get to the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with dazzling consistency on the pitch. His Match Impact Rating flirted with perfection for the tournament coming in at a 91.2 and he took home first place in the Striker Index. Rodriguez' teammate and the overall assist leader at the World Cup, Juan Cuadrado, finished second in MIR at the event. Their performances tell part of the story of how Colombia sailed through Group C with three wins and a goal differential of +7 before upending Uruguay and falling to Brazil narrowly in the quarterfinals. Germany was the only other country with two players in the Top 10 (Mueller and Schuerrle). Golden Ball winner, Argentina's Lionel Messi, was barely in the Top 15 of MIR at the World Cup and we'll get to his unwarranted reward after the standings (min. 240 mins played).
In the case of Messi (Gerard Houiller's lukewarm defense of team play and less than half a tournament as a basis for an award of an individual's outstanding play across the competition aside), his MIR for the entire World Cup was a 47.4 (15th) which is very good but not excellent. In order to make a case for the Golden Ball for Messi, the argument would have to be limited to the Group Stage where he scored four goals in three matches, including two game-winning goals and had a MIR of 74.6 (Messi's MIR in the knockout rounds was a 30.0 with just one assist and three shots on goal). Messi finished sixth in the Striker Index for the tournament with fewer goals per 90 minutes (.52) than any player in the Top 10 besides Arjen Robben (0.39).
Alexis Sanchez of Chile is probably a surprise to most at #2 but what propelled him there was a solid points per 90 minutes, plus striking efficiency with his two goals coming on a mere seven attempts and drawing the most fouls per 90 minutes in the tournament (5.53). Joel Campbell at #8, who was the second most fouled player per 90 minutes (4.33), had a similar story.
The top United States player for the World Cup in MIR was Jermaine Jones at #20. Jones finished with a 41.4, drawing 2.54 fouls per 90 minutes (11th) and scoring 0.46 points per 90 minutes. Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley's poor performance over the course of the matches in Brazil had him finish with a MIR of 13.5.