Soccer is anything but easy.

The game is always mutating and the clock is always ticking and you’d better keep up.

Screw the pooch and watch no one care. No time outs for emotional bandaging.

But in recent years the sport has had to make a concession to modernity and the reality of summer soccer.

The hydration break.

Precisely because the game is non-stop, sometimes you have to…stop. Anything over 85 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s a two-minute break in the 30th and 75th minute, thus avoiding post game intravenous drips all around.

So it was in the second half with Locomotive FC leading LA Galaxy II, 1-0, and up a man after a silly challenge from Brian Iloski earned a straight red card from referee Luís Guardia in the 55th.

Playing against 10 men with the lead? Locomotive was safely past the railroad crossings and into open country. But it hadn’t opened the throttle, easing down the tracks against a team known for hanging around and punishing opponents late in games.

And that had coach Mark Lowry upset.

So, Lowry decided to use the second half hydration break for something most soccer coaches don’t get a chance to do.

Have a little chat with his team.

Well, not a "chat" in the way that word implies conversation.

Imagine coming back to your bench ready for a cold drink of water and seeing this scowling back at you...#WakeUpCall

Let's just say the water may have been cold but the invective was worthy of June in El Paso, if not Bobby Knight or Nick Saban.

"He was definitely animated," said defender Drew Beckie. "And fair enough. We lacked the energy. You could say, 'Aw, it's hot,' or whatever, but it's the same for them (LA)."

Left back James Kiffe also got Lowry's message, loud and clear.

"We could've lost that game. They could have at least equalized when we let off a little bit and it's important we understand that we got off a little easy," said Kiffe. "Against a better team I think they could have scored a goal or two.

"It (letting up) just kind of happens, and I don't think Mark was very happy with it. It's a good learning experience as well. As the season goes on we have to learn from it."

And Lowry: "I felt like the first 20 minutes or the second half we made it harder than it should have been. That's the frustrating part. We weren't as professional as we should have been. So that was what I said (during the hydration break). Raise the level. It's not good enough."

Reading these comments without knowing the final score you could be forgiven for thinking Galaxy II indeed came back and earned a draw.

That was not what happened. Locomotive FC opened the throttle.

Kiffe, who rolled in a pass that Jerome Kiesewetter redirected for the opening goal in the 41st minute, pinged another pinpoint cross that the former Bundesliga forward flicked into the net for his fourth brace in nine games.

The former US international is now tied for second in the USL Championship with nine goals in as many games.

Kiesewetter's goal was followed a minute later by Derek Gebhard's charge up the middle of the field. Gebhard's run drew in what looked like the whole Galaxy II back line, so much so that when he released Omar Salgado on the right wing, the El Pasoan looked like he was running alone through a pasture.

Salgado picked his spot at far post, El Paso picked up its second straight win and its eighth straight result.

And perhaps here you see Lowry's frustration. If his team can just turn it on like that...?

"There could have been more. And they knew it," said Lowry after the game Saturday. "They knew it. They even said that on the field, like, 'We know. We've got to be better.'"

Lowry also appreciates that his team had an extra gear Saturday and believes his players haven't reached their potential.

"You always have to enjoy winning. We work so hard, we should be able to enjoy the win but also not get carried away," Lowry said. "We have standards that we set every single day and eight unbeaten, that's great, but we want more. That's the culture we're creating here. A group of guys that want to be the best, that want to put something beautiful on the field every single time we step out there.

"Today was good but we can be better."

Hydration without oration. That’s the goal.

FIRST-TIMERS

  • Jerome Kiesewetter’s goal-per-game average (nine goals in nine games) tops the USL Championship. Only New Mexico United’s Kevaughn Frater has scored more. Frater has scored 10 goals, though he has played in 13 matches.
  • Kiesewetter’s nine goals ties him for second with United’s Santi Moár, who has played in 14 league games.
  • Perusing this week’s stats, what impressed Lowry even more than his prolific forward was looking for his goalkeeper, Logan Ketterer, among league stats for most saves made…and not finding him. To Lowry, it’s a testament to El Paso’s back line of centerbacks Chiro N'Toko and Drew Beckie and fullbacks James Kiffe and Bryam Rebellón. Beckie stepped out of his car traveling from Oklahoma City, OK, and right into the lineup for Mechack Jérôme, on international duty representing his country, Haiti, at the Gold Cup.
  • Locomotive FC’s .92 goals allowed average (12 goals against in 13 games) tops the Western Conference and is seventh-best in the USL Championship.
  • Ketterer is tied for second in the league with six clean sheets this season, trailing only the Tampa Bay Rowdies' John McCarthy with a remarkable nine. That said, to Lowry's point, Ketterer has only had to make 19 saves this season, the least of any top choice keeper in the USL Championship according to his coach.
  • Locomotive will travel to Tulsa early Friday and practice in northeast Oklahoma Friday afternoon. Though temperatures may approach 90 degrees on game day, Tulsa’s forecast calls for cloudy skies and showers in late evening, possibly holding the humidity at bay. But expect more hydration breaks.
  • Kickoff between the Tulsa Roughnecks and El Paso Locomotive FC is set for 6 p.m. MDT (7 p.m. CDT). The game can be seen via ESPN+ (subscription required), but Locomotive FC will host a watch party at The Palomino Tavern, 205 Cincinnati Ave. The team will give away tickets and merchandise to fans in attendance.