It's official: US to take on Italy in Genoa on Feb. 29

It's been known for weeks, and US Soccer made it official on Monday: The US national team will meet Italy in Genoa on Feb. 29 in the squad’s final tune-up before the team begins World Cup qualifying in June.

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:45 pm ET (8:45 pm local time), and the match will be broadcast on ESPN2. It will be the third meeting between the two teams in Italy and first since a 1-0 Azzurri victory in 2002 during the lead up to the 2002 World Cup.

As the match falls on a FIFA international fixture date, US manager Jurgen Klinsmann will not be limited in his selections.

"Obviously, we are very excited to be playing a team of such high quality," he said in a statement. "We are slowly trying to raise the bar for our team, and this is an awesome opportunity for the players to be challenged against one of the top teams in the world."

The sides have met four times in major tournaments, most notably during the 2006 World Cup when the Americans salvaged a famous 1-1 draw after going down to nine men. The most recent meeting came in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, a 3-0 Italian victory against another short-handed US squad.

The United States have never defeated the four-time World Cup champions, currently ranked ninth in the world, losing seven times with three draws in 10 matches.

The US are currently in Phoenix preparing for friendlies against Venezuela (Jan. 21 at 9 pm ET in Glendale, Ariz.) and Panama (Jan. 25 at 8:30 pm ET in Panama City).

Italy will use the game to prepare for the 2012 European Championship after being placed in a difficult group that includes Spain, Ireland and Croatia.