They changed because typically you have over 2/3s of the federations teams already out. Now, every one in the federation will be playing meaningful games until 2 years prior, and it will be a much slower burn to eliminate the rest. They didn’t do this for the top teams, it really doesn’t change a thing for USMNT, Mexico or Costa Rica. They did it for the bottom teams, and in that sense it’s a win.
I admit it hurts teams like Canada, Panama, etc. Those within striking distance of the Hex auto, but may not get it. Before, they made the Hex every so often and had a real shot, but now if they are an arbitrary ranking away they have to go through an entire tournament to play 2 playoff ties.
Ideally, a shift moving forward should be top 3 get auto bids. Next 6 have a home and home. If you aren’t in the top 9, I’m curious to see how often you’ve made the Hex anyway? My guess is very rarely, so that would be a little lore fair to everyone.