As we fill out our NCAA brackets this week, we must thank our lucky stars we don’t fill out a bracket for the FA Cup because I don’t think anybody could have predicted this semifinal. Crystal Palace, Everton and Watford all punched their tickets to Wembley Stadium for the semifinal. Manchester United and West Ham drew 1-1 and will play in a replay, though it’s safe to say these two teams weren’t expected as well.
Take a look at the last time these teams went to the FA Cup semifinal
Crystal Palace – 1995
Watford – 2003
West Ham – 2006
Manchester United – 2011
Everton – 2012
While a couple of these teams have just recently been in the semis, these aren’t the kinds of teams (except Manchester United) who you picture hoisting trophies before the season. And even Manchester United has seen a trophy drought four three years, which to those fans has gotta be an eternity.
Now look at the last time these teams won a main domestic or European trophy (EPL, FA, Capital One or Champions League)
Crystal Palace – NEVER (Best was second division title in 1994 and FA Cup runner up in 1990)
Watford – NEVER (Best was third division title in 1998 and FA Cup runner up in 1984)
West Ham – 1980
Everton – 1995
Manchester United – 2013
Those are some serious droughts and for two of those teams, it would be unprecedented ground for them to win a trophy such as the FA Cup. Particularly when both Crystal Palace and Watford lost in a final.
The variety of teams heading to Wembley can spark a renewed interest in the tournament. These are teams who have survived a tough road to get there and beaten some tough opponents. And more importantly, they have been 100% in this tournament since the beginning. Even with Manchester United remaining, this could be an FA Cup where all four semifinalists have a legitimate shot to win. For the neutral fans, we cannot ask for a better scenario than that.