The owners of the Detroit Express soccer team will ask the North American Soccer League for permission to transfer the team to Washington for the 1981 season, it was learned last night.

Duncan Hill and Gerrit B. Lemmen, general partners of the Express, said last night that if league owners approve, they will move the team here to open the season in RFK Stadium, March 28.

"We've been here just two days and the response has been excellent," Hill said. "We think Washington can and will be a very prestigious franchise in this league. If our fellow owners want us to do it, we would like to move the team."

NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam is expected to fly here today or Friday to meet with Hill and Lemmen to begin working out details of the move. An announcement is likely to come early next week.

"Since we started talking about moving, all sorts of people have come forward in Detroit wanting to invest," Lemmen said. "We've already got commitments from people in Detroit that will keep the team financed for the next three years, but all that is contingent on the team being in Washington."

Hill said that Ken Furphy, who coached the team in Detroit, will keep that job here. Gordon Bradley, coach of the disbanded Washington Diplomats, will work in the team's personnel department. Five years ago, Bradley replaced Furphy as coach of the Cosmos.

The Diplomats were folded last fall by Madison Square Garden despite averaging 19,205 per game at home. The financially strapped Express, with a 14-18 record, averaged about 11,000 in the Pontiac Silverdome.