On a cold, windy morning last week, John Kerr leaned on his crutches halfway up Fairfax High School's football grandstand, scanning deserted Stalnaker Stadium.

"Well, it's not Wembley {Stadium in London}," said Kerr, who will coach the Washington Stars of the new American Soccer League and was using crutches because of an injured Achilles' tendon.

The Fairfax facility is not the ideal location for a professional team -- the field is narrow, one sideline resembles an Olympic slalom course and parking may be a problem.

For now, however, this is home for the Stars. And, three years after the North American Soccer League folded, it will be places like Stalnaker Stadium, Bleecker Stadium in Albany, N.Y., and the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando at which professional outdoor soccer will again be played in the United States.

"I think there is an existing fan base," league commissioner Chuck Blazer said. "Soccer is now an American sport. When the NASL started, soccer was considered a foreign sport. We are the beneficiaries of the NASL's fall."

There will be 10 teams in the ASL, all located between Boston and Miami. Besides the Stars, the Washington Diplomats are back at RFK Stadium and the Maryland Bays will play at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

The Stars' home opener will be against the Diplomats April 24.

Each team will play 20 games. Pay will range from nothing (for players who want to maintain amateur status) to $300 per game.

"It was time to bring soccer back," said Blazer, who was once the executive vice president of the United States Soccer Federation. "There have been a number of attempts to put together scaled-down versions and it didn't bite. This league will interest the guy who is interested in the game."

Indeed, the ASL is for diehard fans. There won't be any big-name foreign players, such as Pele and Johan Cruyff, who drew big crowds for the NASL. ASL teams will be limited to three foreign players.

Former NASL players Rodney Marsh and Carlos Alberto will coach in the ASL.

Specifically, how different will the new league be from the old? The NASL's New York franchise, the Cosmos, played in 75,000-seat Giants Stadium. The ASL's team in the New York area will be the New Jersey Eagles, who will play their home games at a community field (Hincliffe Stadium) in Paterson.

The bigger fields will include RFK, Boston University's Nickerson Field, Tampa Stadium and the Citrus Bowl.

When the league decided to put a team in Northern Virginia, the thought was to play at George Mason University. However, the school turned down the plan, despite the efforts of Gordon Bradley, who is the university's soccer coach and Stars general manager.

"We applied for it and were turned down," said Bradley, whose son, Doug, will play for the Stars. "We gave them a business proposition and they decided not to go with it."

The long-range goals of the league seem to be targeted at the possibility of the United States hosting the World Cup in 1994.

The United States, Brazil and Morocco have filed formal applications to host the world's most-popular sporting event. FIFA (international soccer's governing body) will announce a decision on June 30.

"FIFA is definitely watching what we are doing," Blazer said. "They are very interested. A good performance from us will certainly help."