Clint Dempsey had a quiet game as two late goals ensured that the United States avoided too much embarassment in an entertaining 2-2 draw in their latest qualifier in El Salvador.

The home side, cheered on by a partisan sell-out 35,000 crowd at the Estadio Cuscatalan, took an early lead when Elisao Quintanilla made a clever run, collected a ball from Osael Romero and found the far corner with his shot. It was El Salvador’s first goal against the States since 1997. Hopes of a US revival appeared bleak when El Salvador doubled their lead with eighteen minutes left. Rodolfo Zelaya beat DaMarcus Beasley too easily and whipped in a cross which was headed in by Cristian Castillo, who outjumped Frankie Hejduk.

Hejduk made amends at the other end of the field when he made the most of an overlap to send over a dangerous cross that was headed home by substitute Jozy Altidore. The full-back went one better with two minutes to go – making the most of a free header after El Salvador failed to clear Landon Donovan’s corner.

The US had chances to win the game in a lengthy period of injury time after some outrageous timewasting by the home side but Brian Ching wasted the best opportunity when his ambitious overhead kick was scrambled away.