But Alex Morgan immediately hit back with a clinical finish in the first half to restore the USA's lead.
White thought she had scored a second after 67 minutes, but it was ruled out for offside following a VAR review.
England then had Millie Bright sent off for a second bookable offence, then captain Steph Houghton missed a significant late penalty awarded after a VAR intervention as Phil Neville's side failed to reach the final for the third major tournament in a row.
Steph Houghton of England misses a penalty during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Semi Final match between England and USA at Stade de Lyon on July 02, 2019 in Lyon, France.
Image credit: Getty Images
VAR is back - back again. And its two interventions this evening were spot on. Ellen White was indeed offside, by a minuscule amount, so her goal was correctly ruled out; she was indeed brought down by contact in a challenge so according to consistency and by the rules of the tournament the penalty was correctly awarded. England will feel very sad, but the technology played no part in their defeat. Phew.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Crystal Dunn (USA). The makeshift full back coped brilliantly with the pace on the England wing and timed her challenges perfectly.
England: Telford 6, Bronze 7, Houghton 7, Bright 5, Stokes 6, Walsh 8, Scott 8, Daly 7, Parris 7, White 7, Mead 7. Subs: Kirby 7, Moore 7, Stanway 7.
10' GOAL! So much space in that box, ball in to the far post, and Christen Press nods it in.
19' GOAL! ELLEN WHITE! Great ball from Keira Walsh out to Mead on the left, who takes it down with an excellent touch, and White hammers it home right-footed.
28' SO CLOSE! Walsh's ball in and SAUERBRUNN SHINS IT just past the post for a corner.
USA beat England in the Women's World Cup semi-final
Image credit: Getty Images
31' GOAL! Alex Morgan nods the USA back in front. It was a good ball in from the left courtesy of Horan, and Stokes is left chasing a shadow in the box.
50' CLOSE! Mead swings it in, Bright nods it down, it bounces off Ertz, and White attempts a bicycle kick, which lands in the hands of Naeher.
67' GOAL! ELLEN WHITE EQUALISES! VAR HAS BEEN CALLED FOR. The referee has given it offside. Gah. What a horror. That was a few millimetres offside, but looks like the right decision.
82' THE REFEREE HAS GIVEN A PENALTY FOR THAT CHALLENGE ON ELLEN WHITE. She reviewed it via VAR.
83' HOUGHTON MISSES. It was low to Naeher's right. One has to say that was brave from Steph Houghton - the captain - stepping up to take such a decisive penalty in place of Parris, who's not on good spot-kick form and is under pressure. But...a bad kick.
86' RED CARD! Millie Bright is off, and deservedly so. What a stupid challenge there on Morgan, studs up, for a second bookable offence, reducing England to ten players.
The USA have won their last 11 matches at the Women’s World Cup; the best winning streak in the tournament’s history.
England have taken more penalties (4) and missed more penalties (3) than any other side at the 2019 Women's World Cup.
Alex Morgan is the first player ever to score a Women's World Cup goal on her birthday.