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Three Thoughts: New York Red Bulls lose, 2-0, to New England Revolution in 2017 preseason game

What can be said about a game that wasn't seen? Let's find out.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls dropped another preseason friendly, losing 2-0 to New England Revolution in Arizona.

RBNY has now lost its last two preseason outings without scoring. And the win over Portland was achieved thanks to an own goal and a penalty. So while chances are being created...

...they aren't going in.

The Revs' goals, for what it is worth, came from Kei Kamara and Brian Wright.

The match wasn't streamed, so conclusions about how luck, unlucky, prepared, or unprepared the Red Bulls might be at this stage in preseason are almost impossible to draw.

Once A Metro will draw a few anyway, of course.

1. It's preseason

Before anything else, it should be acknowledged this is preseason. And making sense of preseason - even for the coaches and players involved in it - is something of a fool's errand. Last year, the enduring truths to emerge from preseason were the team was going to play 4-2-2-2 and score a lot of goals. By this point in the 2016 warm-ups, RBNY had scored 13 goals - including five past Montreal Impact. How did 2016 end? With the Red Bulls playing a 4-2-3-1 and unable to get more than one goal against....Montreal Impact.

And, of course, after sending themselves into the regular season with a 5-2 friendly win over Jacksonville Armada, the free-scoring Red Bulls fell on their faces. They scored their fifth goal in MLS 2016 in their eighth game of the year.

It's preseason. And preseason means somewhat opaque objectives and lessons gleaned from every warm-up game. And the whole exercise gets even more opaque for those outside the team when the games aren't available to be seen.

Although we couldn't see this game, there was one incident highlighted by the teams' Twitter feeds that illustrated how different from the regular season preseason can be:

The Revs had a man sent off, and he was replaced on the field because an unbalanced contest was not in the interest of either team. It's preseason: the coaches want to get their guys fit and figure out who they think can contribute to the long-haul year ahead. Short term gains like winning are secondary for now.

The Red Bulls lost 2-0 to New England Revolution in Arizona on February 3, 2017. In preseason. That's about all that can be said with confidence about this game.

2. Seems like there is a clear first and second unit in camp

Jesse Marsch's stated priority for this phase of preseason is to get his players quickly up to match-ready fitness. To do that, he has explained the team is focusing on warm-up games, even at the expense of going hard in some training sessions.

Marsch has fielded a more or less consistent starting lineup for all three of RBNY's friendlies so far this year. He's adjusted the lineup for injury or availability, but we are three games in to preseason and it's already possible to predict who will start for the Red Bulls. The starting lineup against the Revs was accurately predicted by OaM's Jonathan Machlin, and probably a great many others.

A predictable starting lineup doesn't mean a great deal at this stage other than these are the players Marsch most wants to see maximize their minutes on the field. With the exception of Alex Muyl - subbed out early due to a knock - Marsch left his starters on the field into the second half, and then made sweeping changes.

Those are the substitutions of a coach managing minutes, not too focused on the result. And they also speak to pretty clear idea of the players Marsch thinks of as his first team - at least in the absence of presumptive starters Luis Robles, Sacha Kljestan, Gideon Baah, Damien Perrinelle, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Mike Grella, Connor Lade, and Kemar Lawrence.

3. Injuries seem to be clearing

As the long list above illustrates, the Red Bulls are missing more than a few players at the moment. They aren't all injured, and their absences won't necessarily have any great impact on the squad selected for RBNY's season-opener on February 22.

But fewer players in training and available for warm-up games does hinder the team, so we keep an eye on the list of unavailable players.

RBNY is heading home briefly. The team will be back in action on February 10 in a friendly with Sacramento Republic. There is some time for players to recover from whatever knocks and ailments might be affecting them.

But the run-out against the Revs brought some cause for optimism. Jordan Scarlett - the Red Bulls' selection in the third round of this year's Draft - took to the field again for the first time since a knock forced him out of the game against Portland Timbers. The Jamaica Men's National Team says Kemar Lawrence is injured, though it doesn't appear entirely confident of the nature of his injury: Jamaica's Gleaner was told a hamstring strain; the Observer heard it was a groin problem. Whatever the issue, Lawrence didn't play against the Revs, but he has been seen in recent training ground pictures out of RBNY camp - including one today.

There is a pretty big space between "not fit enough for national team play" and "incapacitated". Lawrence does not appear incapacitated.

Alex Muyl was subbed out of the game in the first half:

But the Red Bulls have time now to attend to their bumps and bruises in the comfort of home. We'll assess whether injuries are a concern for the season's start when we see who is able to participate in RBNY's second preseason camp, starting with the game against Sacramento on February 10.