England were beaten by a stunning 72nd-minute strike from substitute Crystal Dunn as the United States won their first match in the SheBelieves Cup.
Dunn powered home the only goal with a 20-yard shot into the top right-hand corner of Karen Bardsley’s net.
In a match of few chances, England’s best fell to Toni Duggan, whose shot was saved by a diving Hope Solo.
England also had a first-half penalty appeal turned down in front of a 13,027 crowd at the Raymond James Stadium.
They now face Germany in Nashville on Sunday, in the second of three double-headers.
The Germans beat France 1-0 in the opening match of the competition, thanks to a close-range strike from Leonie Maier on 83 minutes.
England boss Mark Sampson said: “We’re disappointed – we wanted to come here and get a positive result.
“Credit to America, they’re world champions for a reason and we’ve been beaten by a wonderful goal.
“It’s disappointing that we switched off for a split second, but there are lots of positives to take.”
Dunn, who scored five minutes after coming off the bench, said the quality of her match-winner had surprised her.
“In my head, I was like I saw the goal, aimed for it and it just happened to go in,” she said.
US coach Jill Ellis called it a “world class” goal, adding: “This is what she can pull out, these exceptional efforts.”
England’s battling performance showed once again that mentally they are up to the challenge of facing the world’s best teams.
They had restricted the hosts to an early Alex Morgan shot, which went wide.
However, their hard work was undone by a small lapse of concentration and a moment of genius from Dunn.
England also had a penalty appeal waved away, despite the ball appearing to hit defender Becky Sauerbrunn’s arm in the area, but they struggled to create many clear-cut chances.
Jordan Nobbs worked tirelessly throughout the 90 minutes to break up the USA’s passing in midfield, and then distributed the ball well when in position.
The England vice-captain was also able to keep Fifa’s player of the year, Carli Lloyd, quiet for most of the match, with the midfielder failing to really trouble the Lionesses.