Show Your Distaste for Tonight’s LeBron-apalooza on ESPN by watching Chicago vs Real Salt Lake on … ESPN2

Okay, ESPN has colonized the known sports world, and there’s not much we can do about it if they want to stage an hourlong worship session at the altar of The King (who was still without an NBA title as of this writing).

But we’ll vote with our cable box and opt for their MLS broadcast tonight, and when it’s over, we won’t feel we’ve participated in something historically self-aggrandizing, unnecessary, and anticlimactic. Unless Kyle Beckerman* shaves his dreads in a post-goal celebration during the RSL match.

The defending champs (8-3-3) are riding a nine-game unbeaten streak and have shut out their last four opponents, including a 5-0 demolition of New England on July 1.

They roll into Chicago’s Toyota Park to take on a Fire team hit hard by injuries. Striker Collins John (gastrointestinal illness) and attacking midfielder Patrick Nyarko (concussion) are out, while forward Brian McBride (quadriceps) and defender Dasan Robinson (hamstring) are questionable.

The Fire (4-4-5) has been inconsistent all season, but will be looking to get some momentum with a solid home win tonight, as well as avenge a penalty-shootout loss to RSL in last year’s Eastern Conference finals.

Kickoff is at 9:30 p.m. EST, so, if you must, you can tune in to the first half hour of this mess.

*This is especially unlikely, as Beckerman is out with a foot injury and did not make the trip to Illinois.

Now let’s catch up on some MLS updates:

Toronto FC Signs Former La Liga Striker Miguel “Mista” Martinez

The 31-year-old has played for Real Madrid, Valencia, and, most recently, Deportivo La Coruna. He has two caps for Spain’s national team.

Seattle Says Swiss International Blaise N’Kufo Will Join Sounders FC On July 14

And not a moment too soon: The Sounders are suffering through a nightmare 4-8-3 season after a dream debut campaign last year. They need all the help they can get, even if it’s from a 35-year-old striker in the twilight of his career.

Branko Boskovic Begins Training with D.C. United

The former Red Star Belgrade and Rapid Vienna midfielder, 30, had his first practice with D.C. yesterday, and, pending the completion of his paperwork, could be eligible to play in the Red and Black’s July 15 game against Seattle. Boskovic, who captains Montenegro’s national team, is D.C.’s Designated Player.

Buddle, Donovan Pick Up where They Left Off Before World Cup

Landon Donovan set up Edson Buddle for the Galaxy’s first goal in a 3-1 romp over Seattle on July 4. The game, played before a sellout crowd at the Home Depot Center, was the duo’s first since the World Cup, and the goal put Buddle back on top of the league scoring leaders with 10. Donovan leads MLS in assists, with 10.

Rookies Shine in Pair of Week 14 Draws

San Jose centerback Ike Opara and D.C. midfielder Andy Najar scored the goals in their teams’ 1-1 tie last weekend, while Chivas USA’s Blair Gavin and Philadelphia’s Danny Mwanga did the same in a 1-1 draw at the Home Depot Center. All four players are rookies, and though Mwanga (Congo) and Najar (Honduras) were not born here, all four can potentially play for the U.S. in the future.

Here is Mwanga’s goal, his fifth of the season:

And here is the 17-year-old Najar beating San Jose vet Bobby Convey at the back post (great work by Stephen King to get him the ball):

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