England were forced to settle for a point despite dominating the United States for much of the game in Rustenburg.
Steven Gerrard gave England a dream start with a well-taken finish before Robert Green’s blunder gifted Clint Demspey an equaliser, and despite all their possession Fabio Capello’s men could not find a winner.
Gerrard, skippering the side in the absence of Rio Ferdinand, met Emile Heskey’s neat lay-off and calmly slotted home with the outside of his boot after just four minutes.
Despite the early setback the United States did not crumble, and Jozy Altidore, who spent last season on loan at Hull, headed a Landon Donovan cross off target.
Immediately England went up the other end and Steve Cherundolo had to be alert to clear Aaron Lennon’s dangerous low cross from the left.
Oguchi Onyewu then headed over from a Donovan free-kick, but England always looked dangerous going forward.
US keeper Tim Howard bravely dived at the feet of Heskey to clear Glen Johnson’s inviting ball into the box.
Landon Donovan sent a shot just wide that Green appeared to have covered, but moments later a blunder by the England keeper gifted the US an equaliser.
Clint Dempsey twisted and turned before taking aim from outside the area, and Green fumbled the relatively tame effort into his own net five minutes before the break.
Having already brought on Shawn Wright-Phillips for James Milner after just 30 minutes, Fabio Capello sent on Jamie Carragher for Ledley King at half-time.
Lennon was switched to the right-hand side and it had an immediate effect as he tormented the USA defence.
Wayne Rooney twice came close to getting on the end of Lennon deliveries, and the Tottenham winger then played in Heskey with a sublime defence-splitting pass.
Heskey timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap, but instead of firing England back in front, the Aston Villa man shot straight at Howard.
Donovan’s set pieces continued to be a source of danger but Carlos Bocanegra headed well off target.
England were on top though, and Lampard had an effort pushed over and Johnson smartly brought down Gerrard’s corner, only to fire wide.
Green enjoyed a little redemption when he produced a fine save to deny Altidore after the American had got away from Carragher, but England were soon back on the offensive.
Gerrard’s cross was inches too high for a wide open Rooney, and the Manchester United striker late let fly from distance but it just flashed wide.
Wright-Phillips then failed to test Howard and Heskey failed to keep his head down after another Gerrard cross from the right.
The United States were hanging on, but they survived England’s onslaught to claim a point.
England: Green, Johnson, King (Carragher 45), Terry, A Cole, Lennon, Lampard, Gerrard, Milner (Wright-Phillips 30), Heskey (Crouch 79), Rooney.
Goal: Gerrard 4
United States: Howard, Bocanegra, Bradley, Onyewu, Cherundolo, Dempsey, Donovan, Clark, DeMerit, Altidore (Holden 86), Findley (Buddle 76).
Goal: Dempsey 40
Bookings: Milner, Carragher, Gerrard (England), DeMerit, Cherundolo, Findley (United States)