Canada had failed to even breach the American rearguard in matches stretching back to 2007, but smashed that record and their 34-year winless streak at BKO Field in Toronto on Tuesday night courtesy of second-half goals from Alphonso Davies and Lucas Cavallini.
Arfield, winning his 18th cap, had a key role in Canada's first goal, dispossessing Michael Bradley on the edge of the centre circle before eventually crossing for Davies to finish after the 18-year-old got in behind American defensive pair DeAndre Yedlin and Aaron Long.
Cavallini doubled the Canucks' advantage in injury time when he let a pass from Jonathan Osorio bounce twice before beating Zack Steffen at his near post.
Just over two years after the Americans failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup by virtue of a surprise loss to Trinidad and Tobago, they saw a 17-match unbeaten run against their northern neighbours come to an end.
Speaking after the match, under-fire USA coach Gregg Berhalter said: "The first thing that stands out to me is desire, the desire of Canada.
"Give them credit, but having said that, the minimum we expect is to match that. We need to compete on every single play in games like that, and that's important.
"I don't think it was lack of effort, I don't think it was purposeful, but I wasn't happy with the desire that we displayed."
Berhalter's first competitive tournament since his appointment as head coach in December last year, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, ended with a final defeat to Mexico in July.
He continued: "What stands out to me is just the sloppiness with the ball. Too many mis-controlled touches, too many missed passes, too many easy things that we normally make that we weren't making tonight."
Chelsea midfielder Christian Pulisic, who played for an hour despite suffering from flu-like symptoms, accepted it hadn't been his day in front of goal. The Pennsylvania-born player saw a shot from point-blank range well saved by Canada 'keeper Milan Borgan in the 51st minute.
"I should have scored no problem," he admitted after the match. "That's on me - just wasn't my day, I guess.
"We didn't have the same energy that they did. That's the one thing that we can control and we weren't able to tonight."
The US, currently ranked 21st, put seven past Cuba last week and came into last night's match on the back of nine wins and eight draws against Canada since a 2-0 loss in Vancouver in April 1985.
World No.75 Canada, on the other hand, are seeking to rise above El Salvador in 72nd and enter the regional top six in FIFA rankings. The June 2020 rankings will have a direct impact on the three direct qualifiers from the North and Central American and Caribbean region for the 2022 World Cup.
Mexico (12th) are the top-ranked CONCACAF team in FIFA's rankings, with the USA in second spot. Costa Rica and Jamaica make the top 50 in 43rd and 47th respectively, while Honduras are in 67th, five ahead of near-neighbours El Salvador.
Curacao (76) are just one place behind Canada with Panama in close pursuit in 77th.
The USA and Canada meet again during the next international break, on November 15 in Orlando.