Michael Bradley struck a dramatic late equaliser as the United States came from two goals down to draw with Slovenia in a pulsating Group C encounter in Johannesburg.
It seemed Slovenia were heading through to the last 16 when the superb Valter Birsa put them ahead with a curling effort and Zlatan Ljubijankic drilled in to double the lead shortly before half-time.
But US coach Bob Bradley made a double change at the interval and the move paid immediate dividends, Landon Donovon racing clear on the right and firing high into the roof of the net.
Slovenia were now firmly on the back foot and the US pressure finally told as Michael Bradley, the son of Bob, poked past Samir Handanovic on 82 minutes.
The Americans thought they had won it through substitute Maurice Edu's volley but the strike was harshly ruled out by referee Koman Coulibaly for an alleged pull and the US players were furious.
It was a result that leaves the group wide open ahead of England's meeting with Algeria later on Friday and the final round of matches at 1500 BST on Wednesday.
The US, who are on two points, take on Algeria in Pretoria and surprise package Slovenia, on four points, play England in Port Elizabeth.
And both sides will go into their respective games with confidence following this thriller at Ellis Park.
Fresh from beating Algeria in their opening game last Sunday, Slovenia arrived knowing a win would seal their passage to the knockout rounds - a remarkable prospect for a nation of only two million people, appearing in only its second World Cup.
But any suggestion they might be unnerved by the history that beckoned was swiftly banished as Matjaz Kek's side got off to a confident and composed start.
Well organised and hard-working, Slovenia were comfortable in possession and looked to pass and move with a minimum of touches at every opportunity.
There was a clear chemistry between their midfield and attack - Robert Koren, Birsa, Ljubijankic and Milivoje Novakovic linking beautifully - and, at times, the US were left to chase shadows.
Birsa, in particular, was troubling the US defence and the talented Auxerre winger signalled his intent with an early run and cross from the right that Novakovic narrowly failed to connect with.
Bob Bradley's men carried a fair threat of their own, but for all the impressive build-up play between Michael Bradley, Robbie Findley, Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, they desperately lacked a cutting edge.
The same could not be said of Slovenia, however, and they deservedly went ahead when Birsa collected possession 25 yards out and unleashed a delightful curler that Tim Howard could only watch sail into his left-hand corner.
It was one of the most eye-catching strikes of the tournament to date and appeared to fill the Slovenians with even more belief, but one of the great strengths of this US side is their never-say-die attitude and they launched a stirring response.
Jose Torres saw a stinging free-kick clawed to safety by Handanovic before Jay DeMerit looped a header wide and a Dempsey cross was poked behind by the faultless Miso Brecko with Donovan waiting to tap in.
It seemed certain the US would score from that last chance and they still appeared to be ruing their failure to do so when Slovenia launched a counter-attack and doubled their lead.
Novakovic picked up possession in plenty of space and fed Ljubijankic, who escaped the non-existent attentions of DeMerit and slotted low into Howard's bottom corner.
Bradley responded with his double switch, replacing Torres and Findley with Edu and Benny Feilhaber, and the large sections of American fans inside the ground roared their players back on to the field.
Within minutes they had pulled one back - Bostjan Cesar inexplicably missed a long ball over the top and Donovan surged into the box before slamming home - and Slovenia were on the ropes.
The US were committing increasing numbers to each attack and after Altidore lashed straight at Handanovic, the keeper again had to be alert to clasp a curling Michael Bradley drive.
With Slovenia keen to extend their advantage, the match was ebbing and flowing like few others preceding it in the tournament and the stadium was rocking with atmosphere.
In a final throw of the dice, Bob Bradley brought on a striker, Herculez Gomez, for defender, Oguchi Onyewu, and again it paid off as Michael Bradley burst from midfield and fired past Handanovic after an excellent knockdown by Altidore.
There was still time for drama - Edu's volley from Donavona's free-kick was disallowed, Novakovic went close with a header and Alexsander Radoslavljevic had a thunderous strike parried by Howard - but neither side could force a winner.
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
Projected table based on current scores
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