A lot had been made of United's quest for winning an unprecedented Quintuple - five major trophies - but was not to be as American Tim Howard stopped two penalty kicks en route to the semifinal victory.
As I saw the result, it reminded me of a conversation I once had with Duke University basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski: our Duke University soccer team had started the 2004 season with a 5-game scoreless streak, and after conceding our first goal of the season against East Carolina University, he referenced how fortunate we must feel to have that streak to have ended; he felt that when you were competing for a championship, you don't want to have peripheral distractions like 'streaks' - it's great to shut out your opposition, but your main objective is to win games and prepare for your next opponent.
Manchester United will play more matches than any team in the world this season, between English Premier League, Carling Cup, FA Cup, European Champions League and World Club Championship matches (not including pre-season tours, etc). As much as fans would like to think that their team will win all the time, there are so many factors that go into winning matches - players being in form, avoiding injuries, etc. Former Duke University soccer coach John Rennie used to talk about those factors that are needed to win a championship, and thought that luck was a pretty big factor as well.
Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United team is out of the FA Cup, but he has also always referenced in the past that his priorities have always been the English Premier League and the European Champions League. Now, he and his team can put their full attention on those trophies.
"It is always disappointing to lose a semi-final but you can't win them all and our targets are fairly obvious. We have to win the league and hopefully get to Rome (for the Champions League final)."