Head Coach Gerhard Struber knows the team is going through a rough patch right now -- and he knows the team is building up character as they go through it.

"They are growing and we've made big steps in this direction over the whole season," Struber said.

While the roster is second-youngest in MLS, the intelligence among the group continues to grow, anchored by veterans like Aaron Long, Sean Nealis and Carlos Coronel, to name a few.

"I know that the expectation is growing -- I understand that many supporters, right now, have the feeling, 'Hey, it's title time,'" Struber said. 

New York sits fourth in the Eastern Conference heading into Saturday's match against D.C. United. The team is sixth in the Supporters' Shield standings, a dozen points behind the leader, LAFC.

The tenacity in the group continues to grow, as the team enters the stretch run of the season and the postseason draws nearer.

"We have a little bit of a challenging moment, a challenging time and we have to fight back and bounce back with all our power," Struber said.