Daegu, South Korea Ahn Jung-hwan scored a 78th-minute equalizer Monday as co-host South Korea came back to draw 1-1 with the United States in Group D.
Both teams can secure a place in the second round with a draw in their final group matches Friday. The U.S., which last reached the second round in 1994 at home, plays Poland and South Korea faces Portugal.
Ahn, a second-half substitute, outjumped defender Jeff Agoos to head in a pass from Eul Yong-lee.
Jung did a dance that appeared to be speedskating movements, a reference to the disqualification of Kim Dong-sung in the 1,500-meter short-track final of February's Salt Lake City Olympics.
South Korea, sky high after its 2-0 opening upset of Poland, dominated most of the game and had a chance to win it in the 89th, but Yong Soo-Choi, with an open net, chipped the ball over the crossbar.
United States forward Clint Mathis had put the Americans in the lead in the 24th-minute in his return to the lineup, and Brad Friedel made brilliant saves, including stopping a penalty kick.
South Korea and the United States each have four points from their first two matches, with the co-host leading Group D on goal difference.
Mathis got the goal when he took a pass from John O'Brien, who had run the ball up from midfield, trapped it with his right foot and kicked it with his left, slotting it past goalkeeper Lee Woon-jae from about 12 meters (yards).
Friedel, starting his second straight game over Kasey Keller, made a brilliant stop in the 40th minute after Agoos was called for dumping Hwang Sun-hon in the penalty area when U.S. defender Eddie Pope tumbled into the players.
Friedel, who had stopped Seol Ki-hyeon point blank just as the penalty kick was whistled, dived to his right and parried Lee Eul-yong's penalty kick away. The rebound went wide.
Friedel also parried Kim Nam-il's 30-meter (yard) chip with his fingertips in the 10th minute and made an excellent save with his feet on Seol's ball from the side in the 20th minute.
Penalty kickers had been 10-for-10 in this World Cup and were 17 of 18 in 1998, with one missing the net entirely. After Friedel's save on Lee, there was a moment of pushing between the teams, but the officials quickly separated them.
Hwang stood out, wearing a bandage that looked almost like a turban. He was bleeding above the left eye after a collision with Frankie Hejduk in front of the U.S. goal in the 22nd minute.
Mathis and U.S. captain Claudio Reyna rejoined the lineup while Pablo Mastroeni - Reyna's replacement - and injured midfielder Earnie Stewart came out. Reyna, however, was not much of a factor.
South Korea pressed at the start, and the United States didn't even take a shot during the first 21 minutes, letting the Red Devils run almost at will.
South Korea's supporters, overwhelmingly clad in red, started chanting and banging drums more than 2 1/2 hours before the start. Signs hanging from the upper deck included "Hiddink! Make our dream come true!" "God Bless Corea" and "We have a dream."
Fans on one end of the lower held up white cards that former the giant letters "GO KOR 16!" signifying South Korea's quest to be among the 16 teams in the second round. Then they switched to raising white South Korean flags aloft.
Fans of the Red Devils flocked south from Seoul all morning on planes, trains, buses and cars, chanting "Go Korea!" and "Dae-han-min-guk" (Republic of Korea).
Because of the tension surrounding the game, organizers heightened security. When the U.S. charter flight from Seoul arrived at Daegu Airport on Sunday, two tanks were on the runway and the Americans were greeted by the usual SWAT teams and police.
While high heat and humidity had been forecast, clouds and a light pregame drizzle kept down the temperature, although the sun started peaking through during warmups.