Major League Soccer made it official, announcing that a new expansion team will start playing in Philadelphia in 2010, setting off a raucous celebration among several hundred fans and supporters.

They were gathered in Chester, where the stadium serving this region will be built.

The announcement had been long anticipated, but was no less sweet, with people hugging one another shaking hands, and sharing their happy disbelief that this day had finally arrived.

"It took us 12 years to bring the world's most popular sport to the City of Brotherly Love," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. "Today I am proud to officially announce that in 2010 Philadelphia will be joining Major League Soccer as the league's 16th team."

One of the owners of the club, James Nevels, said he felt, "like its a dream, and, frankly, like its a dream come true."

The team has already begun accepting season-ticket applications over the phone at 1-877-MLS-2010. A new Web site will go live shortly, offering a "Two for a Ben" deposit deal - $100 to reserve two seats.

A name for the team has not yet been selected.

The team's immediate priority is to start stadium construction. The hiring of front-office staff will begin in the fall, and this time next year the team expects to hire a coach.

The local ownership group had been locked in two-city competition with organizers in St. Louis, both sides hoping to become MLS's next team. Now, St. Louis is working to land the 17th club, in an anticipated future round of expansion, and Philadelphia is getting ready to celebrate.

The owners insist the new team will be successful, avoiding the fate of the Philadelphia Fury and Philadelphia Atoms, who failed in the old North American Soccer League.

The $115 million stadium will anchor an expansive $500 million housing, office and retail development that Gov. Rendell said would "change the face of Chester forever." The stadium complex is to sit just south of the Commodore Barry Bridge, not far from the new Harrah's casino.

Contact staff writer Jeff Gammage at 610-313-8110 or jgammage@phillynews.com

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