During the two years since the new C.B.A. took effect, in fact, the team has missed out on roughly $1.7 million in performance bonuses — sometimes as much as $200,000 for a single match. For some players, that is as much as $74,250 each. The analysis of bonus pay is based on figures contained in the team’s C.B.A., which has not been released publicly.
“We have a very bonus-heavy structure, purposefully — we win a lot of games and expect that we’ll win a lot of games,” forward Megan Rapinoe said. “That is part of the balance, understanding that we have a lot of money tied to wins and especially wins against top teams.”
The payments, which for the first time are based on the quality of a given opponent, are worth a maximum of $8,500 per player for a win against the four top-ranked teams in the world, plus Canada, and up to $1,750 for a draw. Against a tier of opponents ranked Nos. 5 through 8, wins are worth $6,500 and draws $1,250. If the Americans beat a team in the lowest bonus tier, like Sunday’s 6-0 thrashing of Belgium, each player on the roster earns a bonus of $5,250.
Lose, though, for any reason, and the players on U.S. Soccer contracts get no bonus at all.
Asked about how experimentation may cost the team short-term results — and thus, bonuses — Ellis said her priority has been looking long term and leaving no stone unturned before the World Cup.
“You want to win,” Ellis said, “but I’d rather get every box checked.”
It is also worth noting that the team isn’t losing more than it has historically; from the end of 2017 to the start of 2019, the United States even went on a 28-game unbeaten streak. But with each result now carrying a higher price tag for each player, the unpredictability created by abrupt experiments by Ellis has been unsettling to some in the locker room.