The U.S. destroyed Barbados by an 8-0 score on Sunday. Though it reflects what should happen when a good opponent faces a substantially inferior opponent, it also shows somewhat how far the U.S. has come. It's the largest margin of victory ever for the US, let alone qualifying.
It also got qualifying off to a good start, which is expected nowadays but wasn't always the case.
How did the U.S. fare in their previous first qualifiers?
6/13/04; 3-0 win vs Grenada in Columbus
7/16/00; 1-1 at Guatemala
11/3/96; 2-0 win vs Guatemala at RFK
7/24/88; 0-0 at Jamaica
9/29/84; 0-0 at Netherlands Antilles
10/25/80; 0-0 vs Canada in Ft. Lauderdale
9/24/76; 1-1 at Canada
8/20/72; 2-3 loss at Canada
Yes, there are more qualifiers but I stopped at 72. The bottom four efforts ended in failure while the top four ended with the US reaching the World Cup. Even in 96, there was still some doubts to whether the US could qualify. In 2000 and 2001, the US took a great step forward in qualifying by beating Mexico at home and also taking care of Costa Rica at home and Honduras on the road but had to hang on to ultimately qualify.
This time around, it doesn't seem as difficult. In 2004 and 2005 it didn't seem difficult either, and it wasn't too challenging.
Anyway, just wanted to put Sunday's win in some sort of historical context.