In a see-saw meeting in Tianjin, the USA's hopes of a spot in the quarter-finals with a game to go were dashed by a Gerald Sibon free kick in the dying seconds on Saturday. The result sees a two-way tangle at the top of Group B. The USA and Nigeria are both on four points going into their meeting in Beijing, while the Dutch are still alive with two.
It took the Dutch only 16 minutes to open their account, even with injured Roy Makaay watching from the bench at the start. An inch-perfect cross from the right by Jonathan De Guzman picked out Liverpool's Ryan Babel, who headed toward goal from eight yards out. The USA's Aston Villa-bound goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, did well to slap the try away, but Babel followed up and buried his own rebound into the roof of the net (1-0).
The USA's danger man through the first half, as they hunted an equaliser, was one Freddy Adu, soon to join up with Monaco on loan from Benfica. His mazy dribbling on the waterlogged pitch had the Dutch defenders falling over themselves on 27 minutes, but he took himself too far wide in the box to keep his shot under the crossbar.
Five minutes later another Adu run forced a free kick at the edge of the box that Michael Bradley could only slam into the wall. As the half wore toward the interval, it was the Americans who were applying most of the pressure. Marvell Wynne took advantage of a poor back pass to his keeper from Urby Emanuelson, but his cross in front of an empty goal found no target and the half ended scoreless.
The second period began with a flurry of activity and two dangerous headers at either end. First, two minutes in, Dutch captain Hedwiges Maduro nodded into the side of the net with the goal gaping and two minutes later Brian McBride forced Kenneth Vermeer into a dazzling save.
The US finally got their breakthrough in the 64th minute when Sacha Kljestan raced onto an elegant through ball from Adu. After a fortunate bounce off Kew Jaliens, the Chivas USA man strolled in and stroked home to level the scores (1-1).
The Americans kept up the pressure and took the lead through substitute Jozy Altidore. The recent Villarreal signing was in the right place at the right time to deflect a hard cross from the left from Michael Orosco into the back of the Dutch net in the 72nd minute (1-2).
With virtually no time left to play, a foul on the edge of the US penalty area allowed Gerald Sibon to slam low and hard and rescue a point for the Dutch (2-2).
The USA meet Nigeria in Beijing without the suspended Bradley and Adu - who both picked up their second yellows of the group stage - in their final match while the Netherlands play eliminated Japan in Shenyang needing a win and some other things to go their way.