The American Soccer League moved another step closer to regular season reality yesterday.

Officials from all three Washington-area teams appeared at a news conference at Champions restaurant in Georgetown and the Northern Virginia-based entry -- which hosted the event -- announced its new nickname, its home field, its schedule and the signings of its first four players.

At the suggestion of 7-year-old Kevin Wellman of Burke, the winner of a name-the-team contest, F.C. Washington now is the Washington Stars.

After opening their 20-game season April 9 in Tampa against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the Stars will begin their 10-game home schedule April 24 at Fairfax High School's Harold Stalnecker Stadium against the Washington Diplomats.

The Stars' first four players are midfielders Sonny Askew and Doug Davies, forward Scott Snyder and defender Doug Bradley.

Askew, a Baltimore native, is a former member of the North American Soccer League's Washington Diplomats and Team America.

Davies, who is from Bethesda, is a graduate of Walt Whitman High School and the University of Virginia. Snyder, who is from Scotland, played for American University. Bradley, son of Stars General Manager Gordon Bradley, is a graduate of Lake Braddock High School and George Mason.

"The focus is on American players and, because we are working with very constrained budgets, the focus also will be on local players," said Stars owner John Koskinen, who said ASL owners are working with overall budgets of $300,000 to $350,000 this year, of which no more than $50,000 will be used for player salaries.

Koskinen said no team will be allowed to have more than three players who are not American citizens or registered aliens this season, and next year the limit on "imports" will drop to two.

"For years, there has been a cry to have a professionally run league for American players," Koskinen said. "Ten or 20 years ago, that was hard to do because there were not as many American players and people said that part of the reason other leagues failed was because there were too many foreign players. Now, some of the best American players are going to Europe."

One of those players happens to be John Kerr Jr., the son of Stars Coach John Kerr, who said yesterday his son is under contract to Portsmouth of the English First Division until the end of June, but after that, "I think I could talk him into {playing for the Stars}."

Other developments announced yesterday include how the league's 10 teams will be divided (Boston, Albany, New Jersey, the Maryland Bays and the Stars will be in the Northern Division; the Washington Diplomats, Tampa, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami will be in the Southern Division), how the standings will be determined (three points for a win and zero for a loss, with all ties after the regulation 90 minutes being decided by an NASL-style shootout) and the playoff format (the top two teams in each division qualify, with the first-place team from the Southern Division playing the second-place team from the Northern, and vice versa, in a two-game, home-and-home semifinal series to be decided, in case of a split, by a post-second game minigame).