The announcement of a head coach for Washington's United States Football League team has been delayed while club officials debate the merits of the two candidates: Paul Lanham, former Redskin assistant coach, and Ray Jauch, highly successful coach of Winnipeg in the Canadian Football League.

General Manager Dick Myers confirmed Lanham and Jauch are "strong candidates for the job," and that a third candidate had been dropped because of contract problems with his current team.

"We've talked to Paul and we've talked to Ray and I like both of them," said Myers, who recommended the two to club owners. "We expect to have answers to certain questions soon so we can make a final decision by the end of the week."

According to sources, team management is uncertain whether it would prefer a proven head coach, such as Jauch, or someone familiar with the Washington area and who has some name identification with local fans, such as Lanham. Lanham was the Redskins' special teams coach under George Allen from 1973-77 and is now a running back coach with the Los Angeles Rams.

Lanham also would be available immediately. Jauch would have to wait until after the conclusion of the CFL season. The regular season is over Nov. 7 and the Grey Cup will be played Nov. 28.

"Both guys are about equal in everyone's mind," said one team source. "It's a difficult decision. Each has his strong points and his drawbacks. People who know football consider Ray to be an outstanding coach, but few fans know that here. It may come down to this: go with the guy who's been a (head) coach before, since neither guy is really a major name locally. But that remains to be seen."

Jauch produced Grey Cup contenders with his former team, Edmonton, and he has had Winnipeg in the playoffs two of the last three years. He reportedly has been considered strongly for the head coach job with the USFL Tampa franchise.

Lanham, who joined the Rams with Allen in 1978, said yesterday, "I've talked to Dick Myers and I've told the Rams and they gave me permission to consider the job. If they (Washington) are interested in pursuing it further, I'd like the opportunity to investigate the situation more.

"I'm interested," said Lanham, who was regarded here as one of the players' favorite assistant coaches. "I could get out of my contract if the job was offered, but it hasn't been."

In another matter, league sources said that over the weekend the USFL Competition Committee informally reprimanded but did not fine Allen, co-owner and coach of the league's Chicago franchise, for negotiating with players to whom other teams hold the rights.

The committee also has recommended that a strict provision on tampering, calling for fines and loss of rights to players, be written into the bylaws at the next USFL meeting, scheduled here Aug. 30-31.

Allen's team yesterday signed its third player, Jim Fahnhorst, an all-Big Ten linebacker from Minnesota and a fourth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings. His two-year contract was guaranteed. Fahnhorst said the USFL team's offer was better than the NFL team's. "It's a free country," said Vikings Coach Bud Grant.