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Mplayer and esd: "Could not open/initialize audio device -> no sound."

Hi all!

After solving the problem with XMMS (simply switching to esd), I have
problems with mplayer.
# dpkg -l mpla\*
ii  mplayer-586                      1.0-pre6-sarge0.2
I've got the packages from ftp://ftp.nerim.net/debian-marillat

If I switch to esound in mplayer, I simply get the error:
Could not open/initialize audio device -> no sound.
.. while XMMS is working fine.

When I use my hack to kill all sound apps and reload ALSA...
/etc/init.d/alsa force-unload
modprobe snd
modprobe soundcore
modprobe snd_seq_device 
modprobe snd_rawmidi
modprobe snd_mpu401_uart
modprobe snd_page_alloc
modprobe snd_timer
modprobe snd_pcm
modprobe snd_mixer_oss
modprobe snd_pcm_oss
modprobe snd_ac97_codec
modprobe snd_intel8x0
alsactl restore
... ALSA works in mplayer, but I want esd.

Any help very much appreciated!

Thanks & best regards,

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