MEXICO CITY — Michael Bradley scored a stunning early goal from about 40 yards and the U.S. hung on for a 1-1 tie against Mexico in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday night, gaining only its third point at Azteca Stadium as Coach Bruce Arena changed seven starters and used a five-man defense to overcome the thin air and short recovery time.

Bradley put the U.S. ahead in the sixth minute when he deflected a poor backpass by Mexican star Javier Hernandez and created his own breakaway. He chipped the ball over Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who was caught out of position.

Carlos Vela tied the score in the 23rd minute with a 23-yard shot that beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan to the near post, and Hector Herrera nearly put Mexico ahead in the 71st with a 30-yard free kick that hit the crossbar.

With its second draw in three road qualifiers, the U.S. continued to recover from its awful 0-2 start last fall.

“It’s a shame to give away the goal that we did,” Bradley said. “Any time you can get a point here it’s great. … Now we can move ourselves forward.”

Mexico leads the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region with 14 points, followed by Costa Rica (8), the U.S. (8), Panama (6), Honduras (4) and Trinidad and Tobago (3). The top three advance to next year’s World Cup in Russia, and the fourth-place team faces Asia’s No. 5 nation in a playoff.

Mexico was trying to sweep the Americans in a qualifying cycle for the first time since 1972. The U.S. was 0-19-1 in Mexico City – getting outscored 81-14 – before a 1-0 exhibition win in 2012. The U.S. held Mexico to 0-0 in qualifiers at Azteca in 1997 and 2013.

With Estadio Azteca at 7,820 feet above sea level and just two off days between games, Arena paid close attention to recovery time and tested his roster’s depth.

Bradley, one of just four holdovers in the U.S. starting lineup from Thursday night’s 2-0 home win over Trinidad, stunned the boisterous crowd of about 81,000. Hector Moreno passed to Hernandez, who passed back for Herrera in the center circle. Reading the play, Bradley quickly stepped up and knocked the ball toward Mexico’s goal. Bradley sprinted to catch up with the ball, and when he reached it, he lofted a right-footed shot over Ochoa’s outstretched left arm and under the crossbar.

Vela scored the tying goal on a counterattack after a pass from Hernandez.