United States' Michael Bradley, right, congratulates his teammate Jermaine Jones after qualifying for the next World Cup round following their 1-0 loss to Germany during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Germany at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
United States' Michael Bradley, right, congratulates his teammate Jermaine Jones after qualifying for the next World Cup round following their 1-0 loss to Germany during the group G World Cup soccer match between the USA and Germany at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP

Throughout the 2014 World Cup, New England Revolution forward Patrick Mullins, who maintains his own blog, will give us a player’s perspective on the tournament. Below is the second installment, read the firstand second pieces here.

The 2014 World Cup group stage is now complete. We have seen everything we could have wanted: surprise teams, early exits and dramatic finishes. On top of all that, we have seen goals. A whole lot of them.

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For forwards like me, it has been a dream. Free-flowing games have been the norm with attacking talent has been at the forefront.

Now that the Round of 16 is set, we can take a step back and look at some of the tournament’s best goals. Here are my top 5 goals of the World Cup group stage:

5. James Rodriguez (Colombia) vs Japan

The Colombian forward Rodriguez showed his skill and composure with his goal against Japan. He was played in-behind the defense in full stride with only one defender to beat. Most players would have looked for a quick shot, but Rodriguez had his own ideas. Two sharp cuts later and the Japanese defender was left stranded. But, my favorite part was the finish. He finished the move with a deft chip over the keeper. This goal had class written all over it.

4. Jermaine Jones (United States) vs Portugal

The midfielder came up huge with his game-tying strike against Portugal. Similar to Rodriguez’s goal, Jones showed the composure needed to score a goal of the highest quality. The goal came off a US corner that was cleared to Jones. The Portuguese defense scrambled to pressure him, but Jones kept his nerve as he sidestepped a defender. He set up his shot then the midfielder sent a strike toward goal. The shot curled with pace around a Portuguese defender. The goalkeeper was shielded and didn’t see the ball until late. The keeper dove but came nowhere near the wonder strike as it nestled in the corner. Jones’ scorcher is the best long-distance strike of the tournament so far.

3. Lionel Messi (Argentina) vs Nigeria

Fans all over the world expected a breakout tournament from Messi. So far, he has delivered. Arguably, the best player in the world continued to take our breath away with a stunning free kick. Messi sent a warning sign five minutes before the goal on a free kick from a similar distance. Second time around, the Argentinian playmaker made no mistake. He curled his free kick up and over the wall with ease. The Nigerian keeper could only hope it hit the post. But, the ball was only heading in one direction. The corner of the net. Messi’s magic has Argentina with a real chance to win the entire tournament.

2. Tim Cahill (Australia) vs Netherlands

The Aussies won fans over across the world with their exciting open play. Although Australian captain Tim Cahill couldn’t lead his team to a point in the World Cup, he did leave Brazil with a goal he will never forget. The Socceroo forward performed a moment of technical perfection. He executed one of the most difficult techniques in soccer. Cahill peeled off the Dutch backline to receive a pinpoint diagonal ball. He then did the unthinkable as he hit the ball first-time out of the air on the full volley. The ball screeched past the Dutch keeper before he could even react.

1.Robin van Persie (HOL) vs Spain

The best goal produced by one of the best forwards in the tournament. Robin van Persie. Not only did this goal start the romp against Spain, but it also sent the social media world into a frenzy. This goal is special in two parts: the ball and the finish. Daley Blind served a 50-yard inch perfect pass. Then Van Persie’s finish had jaws dropping. The athleticism he displayed by twisting his body mid-air was most impressive to me. The precision in his looping header was unbelievable too considering the pace and distance of the ball. Two pieces of individual skill made one memorable Van Persie goal.