Owners of North American Soccer League clubs told the NASL Players Association yesterday that they would not recognize it as a union, a move that prompted the association's leader to predict an "inevitable" strike.

ED GARVEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE NASL Players Association, said a secretary of the owners' Washington lawyer, Robert Rolnick, "Read a letter to me saying they declined to recognize us."

In a telephone interview, Garvey said the next step for the NASLPA would be for him to visit each team and take a strike vote, a process which could take two weeks. Two-thirds of the almost 480 NASL players would have to approve a strike.

Bob Stetler, the Diplomats' player representative, said last night that if a team vote was taken now the "majority would go for no strike."

"i think the players realize in their hearts that they need it (the strike)," Stetler said. "But they are scared."

Stetler said that the players approved a strike by a 2-to-1 margin in early March. Later, when Stetler was in Chicago for a meeting, he said that management "threatened them (the players) with wage cuts and deportaion." He added that management took a vote and that 20 went against a strike and only four were for it.

Stetler said a strike vote by the team had not been taken since. He said the team will meet with Garvey "early next week. The turning point will be the meeting."