In 2008 we had come off a very good showing in the Gold Cup and looked like a force to be reckoned with in CONCACAF. Then we had the most misserable time I can remember and didn't come close to the hex. I think interest will pick up if we take 6 points off Cuba. That will show that we have a chance to make the hex this time.
I mean if we ever had a "golden generation" the last cycle was it. De Guzman was one of the best players in CONCACAF, Klukowski the best left back in CONCACAF, DeRosario playing very well for Houston, Gerba was scoring overseas in England, Radz and Hume were much more useful players as well back then. Plus after Hastings fantastic performance in the 07 Gold Cup we expected a lot from him. So I would say the 2010 group was much better than both the 2014 and 2018 teams are looking.
I think DDR is twice the player he was 4-5 years ago, seriously. I've done a complete (if gradual) 180 degree turn in my opinion of the man since the last round of WCQ and I put that entirely down to his evolution as a player. His on-field play has really matured to my mind. And I've always been one of Hutch's biggest fans on these forums and have no hesitation in saying I think he's a better player today than he was 4 years ago as well. That's pretty strong praise. So there's two very big, and very important player improvements over last cycle.
Are there also disappointments? Absolutely. The Guz leaps to mind instantly, but I don't think we're especially worse off overall in most cases, just sporting a different look.
2018? I don't give 2018 a thought. Foolish to even try. Three years ago Simeon Jackson was spending his evenings poring pints at the club pub to try and make ends meet. These days he's down at the local Jaguar dealership window shopping on impulse. You know, just in case there's something there which might catch his eye.
"Have you ever smoked marijuana?" Pal, you already know. You were the one selling it.