COLUMBUS, Ohio They set up a big screen on the stage behind one of the goals at Columbus Crew Stadium on Saturday night and showed "Shrek" to anyone who wanted to stay for an extra 90 minutes.
Those fans had already seen one ogre-like performance put forth by visiting Real Salt Lake, which lost 3-0 before a crowd of 12,448.
The loss was the second consecutive defeat for RSL (7-8-6, 27 points) on the road and leaves the team needing to find form with nine matches to play in the regular season.
"I don't think, defensively, that we were quite there," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "I don't think we had the energy or the commitment level that I've seen out of our group for a long time."
RSL opened the match in a 4-2-3-1 formation with two defensive midfielders behind a three-man midfield screen with only Kenny Deuchar as a forward.
The formation's intent was to help the visitors keep possession and keep Columbus (11-7-4, 37 points) from putting sustained pressure on the RSL defense.
Those plans fell to pieces in a 10-minute spell of the first half. In the 15th minute, Guillermo Schelotto floated a free kick from the left side of the penalty area to the far post. Chad Marshall rose above Nat Borchers and headed his third goal of the season.
Set pieces continued to trouble RSL when a 22nd-minute corner kick was put just wide by Eddie Gaven, who headed right to left across a gaping goalmouth.
The nightmare stretch concluded when Javier Morales lost possession in midfield and Columbus broke quickly. Eddie Gaven took the ball in the penalty area and was brought down by RSL's Nat Borchers, and referee Terry Vaughn pointed to the penalty spot.
Schelotto sent Nick Rimando the wrong way and rolled the ball into the right corner of the net, and Columbus had a 2-0 lead after 25 minutes. The goal was Schelotto's fifth of the season.
"They really got us on our heels from the start and we never got going," RSL midfielder and captain Kyle Beckerman said. "It kind of set the tone at the beginning of the game and just couldn't really get out of it."
RSL's best effort came in the final minute of the first half. Robbie Findley moved deep into the penalty area on the right wing. He sent the ball to the near post to Kenny Cutler, whose shot was blocked. The ball came to Deuchar in the penalty area, and his shot went just wide.
At halftime, RSL shuffled its lineup. Andy Williams replaced Deuchar and went to a central midfield role. Yura Movsisyan shifted from midfield to forward and partnered Findley in a revamped 4-4-2 formation.
"I thought we worked on (the 4-2-3-1) enough in practice during the week," Beckerman said. "But it seemed like some guys didn't know what they were supposed to do. It really hurt us because they were able to keep possession and get behind us."
With RSL looking to throw players forward when possible, an early chance was created with Williams fed Movsisyan, who headed the ball wide.
But in the 55th minute, Columbus put together another simple scoring move. Schelotto played the ball down the right wing for Gaven, who crossed to the far post for Brad Evans to head the Crew's third goal.
RSL still kept working to score. Williams snapped a 71st-minute shot that Columbus goalie Will Hesmer saved for a corner kick, Hesmer's first save of the match.
In the 77th minute, Robbie Russell forced Hesmer to save again. But despite the increasing pressure, Columbus held out for the shutout victory.